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HENRIK IBSEN was born in Norway, March 20, 1828, and 
lived there until 1864, when, in his distress that Sweden and 
Norway would not help Denmark to resist Prussia, he wrote 
scornful epigrams about his fellow-countrymen, and since then 
he has not been in Norway. He lived for some years in 
Dresden, since 1878 he has been chiefly in Rome, but has no 
settled home. 

Of his earlier works, Catilina, Fru Inger, The Comedy of 
Love, and above all, Rivals for the Crown, 1864, were those 
that chiefly brought him into notice, until in 1866 Brand gave 
him a fame that grew with Peer Gynt, Youth's Bond, Emperor 
and Galilean (translated by Miss C. Ray : S. Tinsley), The 
Pillars of Society ; 1879 The Doll's House appeared, and at 
Christmas, 1881, Ghosts. 

He has married a daughter of Mrs. Magdalene Thoresen, 
a Norwegian poetess. He has a small literary pension from 
the Norwegian Government, the rest of his income is derived 
from his writings. 

His long gray hair and whiskers make him look somewhat 
more than fifty. He is short but firmly and well built, so that 
he looks taller than he is. The most characteristic points in 
his serious, decided face are his powerful forehead, which is 
remarkably broad and high, a very Jupiter's brow, and his deli- 
cate mouth ; it has no lips, but shuts energetically in a fine 
line, and it expresses inexhaustible will, as though some giant 
resolve were forever being taken afresh. His small blue eyes 
almost disappear behind his spectacles. His nose is quite 



Northern in its irregularity. He speaks softly, moves slowly, 
and rarely gesticulates. His self-command almost amounts to 
coldness ; it is but the snow that covers a volcano of wild and 
passionate power. 

The play here presented is called in Norwegian Ett Duk- 
kehjem. To a public unused to Ibsen's surprises, A Dolfs 
House is a misleading title ; the German translator seems to 
have felt this, and preferred to call his translation of the play 
Nora. Whatever is written in Swedish, Norwegian, or Danish 
can be read without a translator's help in Norway, Sweden, 
Denmark, and Finland ; and, as I learned during my own resi- 
dence in Stockholm, i878-'79, the cultivated homes among these 
ten millions of people look to Ibsen as their great teacher. 
They do not always like what he says, but they let him speak 
on. Such furious discussion did The Doll's House rouse when 
the play came out, iBjg-'So, that many a social invitation given 
in Stockholm during that winter bore the words, " You are re- 
quested not to mention Ibsen's DolFs House ! " The play's firm 
hold on the Scandinavian mind has been strengthened, rather 
than effaced, by his Ghosts (1881) ; and how firm this hold is a 
mass of criticism shows as it continues to pour from the press. 
In a series of essays called " Questions of the Day " is Ibsen 
and the Marriage Question, by " Robinson." It explains Ib- 
sen's position in the worlds of thought and literature, and in 
Scandinavian estimation so well, that I venture to give much 
of its substance. 

Marriage is still an unsettled problem. The Eastern poets 
sing Woman a slave, the Western, Man enslaved by her. But 
far-sighted spirits like Dante reject both views, and sing Ideal 
Love, a thought too precious for humanity to let it escape 
when once it reached human consciousness. Yet it is philos- 
ophers and moralasts whom Time leads to accept it, while the 
poets, its first leaders, ignore the truth that marriage involves 
human dignity, responsibility, community, and mutual trust. 
It is to making this truth clear that Henry Ibsen has devoted his 
poet's gift. No sooner does a great and popular poet do so, 
than we see how little woman's own voice has been heard in 


other poetry ; and we feel thankful that a singer who can make 
himself gladly heard is singing of freedom, openness, true and 
conscious devotion, conscience responsible to itself alike in man 
and woman. Ibsen sees the world deluged by masculine quali- 
ties ; he approves them if, by devotion to a distinct plan and its 
execution, they touch heroism, otherwise he chases lovers of self 
mercilessly about with scorn or laughter. He sees womanly 
qualities hidden, fled away, or misunderstood. He does not 
construct some purely harmonious circumstances, and show 
Woman attaining a seeming equilibrium, and becoming all that 
her nature is capable of. He either shows her driven to crime 
or eccentricity by cramped or misdirected development (as Nora 
was), or losing her womanliness by being reared in a wrong state 
of society (like Helen in Emperor and GaUtan) ; or finally he 
opens all the great gates of his poetry to noble, pure-hearted, 
loving, disappointed women, who move about among reckless 
men as the natural centers for conversion and reconciliation, but 
either lack courage to seize the occasion, or, if they have much 
courage, happen to have such a pig-headed, one-sided manhood 
to deal with, that the inspired woman, the heavenly herald of 
nature and conscience, is trampled under foot, or passed by, the 
man regretting it, but when it is too late. 

Such are most of Ibsen's women. He considers they are to 
be found everywhere, a latent force whose accession humanity 
needs, and that his task is to release the Sleeping Beauty, as the 
prince did in our childish fable. The thorny wood has grown 
all round. Meanwhile, unwomanliness flaunts outside ; the 
thorns are blooming. Men dream away life amid this injury to 
womanhood ; at any rate they forget to break their way in to 
reality they are ready for any deed rather than that. Ibsen 
approaches the thorn-girt home ; he knows that every expression 
crushes thousands of conventionality's roses ; and on his plain 
but trusty sword are these words only Love and Understand. 
Expanded, the words mean The union between two people is 
only true according as they love and understand each other in 
thought, feeling, and will, tasks of duty and sources of joy, and 
are consequently able to fight life's battles, bear its pains, and 


enjoy its glory together ; and this by having directed, forwarded, 
and freed each other's development. 

Renowned as Ibsen has long been, it was The DolFs House 
(1879, during a few months' journey round Europe) that pro- 
cured him the title " Woman's Poet," because it threw a light- 
ning flash over all his past writing. 

To see Ibsen's position as a dramatist we ought to glance at 
the history of the stage, and especially at the French stage, 
which has influenced all other dramatic writing for the past 150 
years, and then we shall ask why Ibsen passes by and turns away 
from something by which Frenchmen produce their greatest stage 
effects. That class of women to whom novels and plays have 
been giving complete publicity year after year, and who are very 
conspicuous in the world, are almost excluded from the great 
Northman's works. While French dramatists and their disciples 
are never weary of depicting these beings, who have nothing of 
woman but her outward enchantment, whereby they rule Soci- 
ety's life, and are like a pest in its midst, Ibsen has worked out 
but one such figure, Helen in the Emperor and Galilean, and he 
chastises her as before him only the world's greatest poets for 
the stage have dared to chastise her like. Through Ibsen, as 
through Shakespeare, we get a striking impression that the one 
absolutely unpoetical thing in humanity is to be born to de- 
velop through struggle and change into a human being, and yet 
to will to have one's influence in life only as being a beautiful 

Other poets modern Frenchmen and Swinburne even more 
than they may show by the strongest language that they hold 
this same view, and how every such woman exists but as an 
injury, a sort of scar on humanity's living organism ; but all 
their words only increase her power, and she knows this only 
too well. 

Under our existing social conditions Silence is the only thing 
that can possibly lessen her death-bringing power ; that people 
should find a world-renowned poet, who knows how to touch 
all the fine chords of ideality, and at the same time is wide 
awake to all that goes on around him, simply sets her aside 


wholly ignores her, or makes her a mere listener, puts her out- 
side the real action of the poem, and in the same position as a 
listless and ignorant person occupies during brilliant conversa- 
tion among intelligent people, so that the reader or the onlooker 
is obliged to ask himself how a being thus spiritually defective 
could ever have got a place amid the awakened life of human 
work and human wiH. 

Thinking Frenchmen seem to wish to treat such women not 
as exceptions to womanhood, but as characteristic of it : bat 
whether the woman be cunning or simple, coquette or prude, 
she never arrives at any development through the action of the 
piece, and there is nothing to show whether she will end in 
being like her surroundings, or be educated by life into real 
womanhood. Ibsen, on the contrary, handles the question of 
development seriously, as being for woman the question of 
awakening in the end to being able to love devotedly and 

It is not only as an idealist that Ibsen knows this is the 
highest thing ; he knows as a realist, as a friend to the modem 
philosophy of development or "evolution," that every return to 
an earlier or ruder view of life, when a more human one has 
already entered the general consciousness, is unnatural. With 
these two convictions he plans his work and carries it out ; he 
feels he is the messenger of nature and the spirit, and therefore, 
amid the moral anachronisms in the rest of European poetry, 
he bursts in like a storm from the North to clear the air. So 
far as he is concerned he will contribute nothing to justify anti- 
quated habits of thought. 

Ibsen considers that the womanly life that is available for 
dramatic purposes, all the conditions for passionate action among 
her virtues and sins, together with the events arising out of 
them, are different from what they were in past times, because 
the sort of influence it is now natural for her to strive after is 

Woman of course exercises influence in all possible ways ; 
but if it be not that of a free and loving being, it drags down, 
it is an influence of somnambulism, death, and retrogression, a 


return to the Oriental idea of the relation between the sexes, 
according to which it is a merit for her to have no soul. 

Against this now antiquated, animal view, whether on its 
respectable or its unrespectable side, Ibsen wages ceaseless war, 
and with a strategy that he has devised for himself. At any 
rate he has turned his back on the French method which has 
been so industriously copied. 

All women who willingly or unwillingly are part of the con- 
federacy for maintaining the exclusive responsibility of man's 
qualities in the world, all women who thus consciously or un- 
consciously are foes to woman's development, and, if they try 
to have influence, try to have it in some other and therefore 
some unnatural way, Ibsen disposes of summarily ; in Princess 
Helen and a few others. And he considers he has then got rid 
of the whole brood. 

But the richest streams from the royal veins of his poetry 
flow toward the other women, who are natural, fresh, self-de- 
ceived ; who desired development, but did not as a rule find 
circumstances ripe enough to give it them ; who were thus 
cheated out of life ; who were alone in their day, or even before 
their day. He considers that he has a good opportunity for 
doing this even when he is handling the great historic forces of 
the world, religious and other grave matters ; his reason pre- 
sumably being that he considers these great things can never be 
settled without one half of the human race. 

It is, then, marriage in its widest sense, the common work 
of man and woman, which is the question of questions to the 
great poet ; the question that involves the final untying of every 
knot of difficulty, or at least the question whether or not we are 
to realize the idea of our race. 

Nothing is justifiable in man or woman that is one-sided. 
Ibsen's plays show what ruin the Furies of one-sidedness can 
work in the absence of harmonious understanding between man 
and woman. Ibsen views the relation between the sexes as the 
ultimate cause our reason can trace for all the unloveliness our 
race has inherited. This unloveliness may have more remote 
causes, and he suggests these infinite questions, but without 


believing he can get incontestable answers to them, as he be- 
lieves he can about mamage. 

A reader who from nature or teaching inclines to the Orien- 
tal view of the sexes, will find Ibsen's writings merely " destruct- 
ive " and " negative." Our examination will lead us, however, 
to see that his poetry is more constructive and positive than any 
other of his time ; for to say that a wrong relation between the 
sexes is for us human beings the visible reason for all that is 
unlovely, is the same as saying that beauty, or the realizing the 
idea of our race, is much nearer to us, more natural, more pos- 
sible, than we could otherwise dare to believe. 

The contempt for women associated with Don Juan's name 
has given place to another story, also a mediaeval one, that of 
Venus and Tannhauser, where woman is the leader astray, and 
just now this is the only story that is applied in dramatic writ- 
ing. Possibly some poets fancy that they do woman honor 
thereby, so far as her sex may be said to exercise a sort of right 
of chastisement for centuries of hampered development. The 
poison does not consist in our awakening to the consciousness 
that we possess senses as well as souls. That consciousness is 
exactly what a poet should rouse and help to set in order ; be is 
the only person really qualified to do it. The poison consists 
in getting our natural dislike at all lessened toward the Venus 
and Tannhauser story, and the representation of our nature un- 
derlying it, whose meaning is a thousand times more lowering 
to all that woman means in this world than any told of Don 
Juan. For when that story had done its worst, it had but ex- 
pressed the dishonor of some one woman. The Venus story 
disgraces the whole sex, and does it through a woman. 

And the most refined, surest, most weakening poison of all 
consists in regarding such scenes as living pictures, where no 
historical consequences of action appear, or rather no conse- 
quences of any sort ; but where the events are a joke, and the 
end a joke, and the whole a mere amusement, a cannibal feast, 
where the actresses are crowned with roses. 

There is not a drop of this poison in Ibsen's poetry, This 
should not be forgotten in reckoning up the essentials whenevei 


his title "Woman's Poet " is in question, for there is no mis- 
taking its meaning in an author powerful as he is ; it can not 
arise from any want of power to choose or manage material. 
It means neither more nor less than that Ibsen will not depict a 
woman using power when this power is based on hampered de- 
velopment ; he considers that idea has had its day, and must 
now be consigned to the tomb, though in all his plays he allows 
for difference of historical period, and for individual strength or 

Ibsen's women are generally beings with a power to accom- 
plish an entire and distinct task in life, such women as, when 
life at any time offers them a share in action, put their mark on 
it, in the same way as women like them will when more sensible 
manners shall prevail in the world, and earth's face grow young 
once more with springs of blessing that are now sealed up. 
Even the wives who were not their husbands' choice, and there- 
fore never had anything of a real wife's lot, even the disap- 
pointed old maids or the spoiled girls, do their best in their dis- 
torted position ; when a moment for action or liberty comes 
they show that their heart is still in the right place, even though 
it be not a wholly fresh, courageous heart. 

And of the powerful women, who pioneer their own wayt 
and whose career is easier to follow, because it is more dramatic, 
it may be said that their very crime does but show the obverse 
side of the devotedness that could have made them thorough 

The strength of Isben's drawing of men's character has never 
been questioned ; men recognize past times and themselves 
through them ; nor can these impressions ever be forgotten. 
But these chiefly negative representations are not his most 
beautiful. His most beautiful things are his positive pictures of 
womanhood, and they only are (like Shakespeare's) clearly 
marked and completely carried out. The friendly hopeful 
light they shed only strikes our eyes, perhaps, when thrown 
into a strong contrast with the view man has hitherto held as 
to the position of the sexes. The poet has cut his way right 
through the thorny wood to the dwelling where womanliness is 


to be found. After that it depends upon each man whether he 
will follow the path and try to raise the newly roused woman to 
fall consciousness. 

The end of the story of the sleeping wood Ibsen leaves to 
the reader. How he has carried it oat we know now, and how 
his own way is to show woman respect by his poetry ; how cau- 
tious, how intensely modest he is, how manly his honesty is, 
how artistically chaste, how free from all sentimentality, all 
flowery language, all patronizing approval. Ibsen's method is 
not to get a chorus, bat to secure silence and transparent air 
round his object. He waits, like a believer, rather to get to 
know something than get to say something, when by one great 
poem after another he carefully opens the way to the fresh new 
forces in humanity : Woman. 

Ibsen considers that- it is from man's side that the greatest 
hindrances come to the realization of marriage on earth unity. 
positive purity, complete oneness of life and work between man 
and woman ; but that woman increases man's difficulties in 
getting into the right way, because she does not understand his 
temptations, and has not learned to cherish a noble respect for 
his fight. 

Man has inherited more than woman has of the disordered 
instincts that result from all false marriage in countless previous 
generations. The physical and spiritual laws are yet unknown 
which enable heredity to give this different stamp to the two 
sexes, and thus a great difference in the difficulties of life's 
problems. How the matter actually stands is. on the contrary, 
plain to every one, and also that even the womanly woman 
will contribute to man's fall while our present social ideas are 
in force. She does it from want of courage. But the results 
of an action may be equally great whether it was intentional or 
unconscious. The momentary unconscious crime is often a 
result of our not being developed enough to face the task we 
shrink from. Whole hosts of such actions or omissions file 
through the world in silent darkness; and people who prefer 
that man should be left in his undeveloped condition take pious 
comfort from thinking that these evils arise without any blame 


to the person who set them going. If only no one can be made 
personally responsible as the cause, they think the evils can be 
borne with meekness, and they accustom themselves to calling 
them " natural " evils. No small part of the poet's task is to 
rouse men from this opiate comfort. He does it not by deny- 
ing the existence of these evils, but by painting them in all 
their far-reaching consequences, and making all men collectively 
responsible for them. The poet, like the thinker, does not con- 
sider that it is a part of the world's scheme that it is out of evil 
good should arise, but knows that it is we ourselves who futilize 
our common life, and therefore he regards it as no crime to 
disturb us in our sleepy or pious disregard of bad conditions 
and false views of life. He sees that the struggle against evil 
is quite serious enough without our refusing our support to 
good by retaining habits that unconsciously and irresponsibly 
work evil. He believes, in short, that the full development of 
all healthy forces can only lead to good. 

The trivial social view against which Ibsen protests is, that 
for two to become one and blessed is a mere dream, but that 
marriage is something practical ; that while parents alone chose 
for their children, marriage was on too narrow a basis, but that 
the happy mean has been found now the approval of all rela- 
tives and friends is sought. Against all such shallowness and 
cynicism Ibsen protests that human passions can not be con- 
trolled by locks or by opiates, and that the only possible help is 
for passion and duty to go the same way. 

There are two ways of working for reform : the politician 
waits and steers his course, the poet compromises nothing. To 
illustrate these two ways let us take an example from the physi- 
cal world. 

Human beauty is an exception, whereas it should be the 
rule. People set to work to attack wrong clothing and food, 
bad habits at home and at school. Doubtless all this is in the 
right direction, and some are convinced. But one day, by ac- 
cident, one of those who have listened and assented opens a 
book of engravings from Greek sculpture, and seeing perfect 
beauty, he learns more from that single glance than from all the 


indirect working of sanitary teaching. He has seen what beauty 
looks like. 

The poet's work gives a similar discovery of inner beauty or 
moral life. Some of the clearest light Ibsen has so far shed 
on marriage we get from The Dolfs House. The problem is 
set in its purest form ; no unfavorable circumstances hinder the 
working out of marriage; nor does the temper of Nora or 
Ilelmer; both are well fitted for married life, and everything 
points to their being naturally suited to each other. The hin- 
drance lies exclusively in the application of a false view of life, 
or if some insist it once contained truth a view that Western 
peoples have outlived. When Helmer said he would work 
night and day for his wife, his were no empty words. He had 
done it, he meant to do it ; he had been faithfully working for 
eight years, and there is' no sign that he meant to cease. His 
happiness lay in Nora's being unruffled. Nor would he dream 
of curtailing what he considers her wife's freedom i. e., the 
happy play of her imagination. He would deprive her but of 
one thing reality. How could he claim to be a "real man," 
he would say, if he gave it to her ? And he so far succeeds in 
unfitting her for action, that when she takes upon herself to 
meddle in realities, she immediately commits a crime. He 
gives her everything but his confidence ; not because he has 
anything to conceal, but because she is a woman. 

Thousands who adhere to society's usual view of a right life 
between man and woman, express it by saying their home is 
" like a doll's house " ; others, more serious, mean that they are 
glad to see a woman cosy and comfortable in this hard world. 
Some express disapproval by saying, " Helmer went too far ; if 
he had given Nora a cookery-book instead of a tambourine all 
would have been well." Others say, " If Nora had but had a 
nice ordinary woman for her friend instead of that knitting book- 
keeper, Mrs. Linden, all would have gone smoothly, even the 
loan from Dr. Rank, which a little tact would have turned into 
a charming concluding scene." 

The only reply to all these is to ask them to read the play 
through carefully once more, when they will see for themselves 


all the conditions for a moral marriage laid down. They may 
be summed up in the one word, Love. But at present Love is 
an idea to which no clear meaning attaches. Love presumes 
youth as a rule, but is not the same thing as youth, or even as 
youth with warm and mutual liking into the bargain. Youth is 
a glorious thing, but it has its own dangers, and the chief of 
them is self-deception. It is only too easy for two young people 
to rock themselves in dreams of bliss without real love, in winch 
case all relation between them is according to Western notions 
immoral, a point to which marriage makes no difference what- 
ever. Love is confidence ; and Mrs. Linden and Krogstad, 
shipwrecked folks as they were, had better prospects of it in 
their union than Nora and Helmer had, because they meant to 
live in future with mutual understanding. For marriage is 
really a state of being awake to life and activity ; at least nine 
tenths of it is active ; and every piece of activity either mate 
excludes the other from is a piece of robbery from the marriage 
winnings or the mutual development marriage is intended to 
bring about for both, and therefore for humanity, quite apart 
from whether the activity itself fails or succeeds. It will gener- 
ally be found that that those who dislike The Dolfs House are 
those whose view of marriage the play utterly destroys ; while 
those who like the play are those who, with Ibsen himself, would 
rejoice with all their hearts to see that past ideal of marriage 
crushed, against which every word in the play quietly strikes a 
certain death-blow. 

If you lose sight of the play's great human interest you come 
to petty considerations, such as whether Nora had a really large 
nature and Helmer a stupid one, or that Ibsen means very little 
in it after all, or as to the effect it is likely to have in making 
foolish young people neglect their duties and turn from Chris- 
tianity to Nihilism. 

A poetical work reveals an idea, a truth that has a perfect 
right to its place among the truths of the world ; a truth that is 
so permanent and indestructible, that if the time has come for 
that truth, it can not be injured by neglect, or evaded or turned 
aside, though he who attempts to injure it may thereby injure 


and destroy himself. A perfect poem sets forth an idea perfectly. 
Either The Doffs House is not a poetical work, or at any rate 
not a perfect one, or else by means of the idea it sets forth it is 
perfectly easy to find oar way into every corner of the play, and 
get a clearer and deeper knowledge of it than would be possible 
from, e. g., an historical essay. On the other hand, with any- 
thing less than this idea it is impossible to do justice to the play 
as a whole, or to any of its organic parts. 

The idea of the play is : the object of marriage is to make 
each human personality free. However incontrovertible this 
may be when laid down as an axiom, does that confer the power 
of giving it expression in real life, steering one's way among all 
the difficulties of deceit, inexperience, etc. ? Doubtless not ; 
but the poet's work tells us, until the relation between man and 
woman turns in this direction, the relation is not yet Love. This 
is the idea, freed from all side issues, and no other key will un- 
lock it. 

It is of course possible to find one's way through schematic 
plays, products of a weaker time than ours, without grasping the 
main idea. But in our realistic art, when people speak the 
language of their own passions and prejudices, we could never 
reach the main idea through the various details, in so many 
ways may an individual utterance be taken. The poet does not 
create ideas, as a rule he can hardly be said to discover them ; 
in most cases they have already become human property, as it 
were, among a few of his most thoughtful and cultured con- 
temporaries. But it is the poet's art that brings them to light ; 
he communicates them to millions. What is new seems dumb 
while its spokesmen are the philosophers, statesmen, priests, 
moralists, critics, sociologists, or publicists. It is as though un- 
said till the poet says it ; when he has spoken humanity has 
spoken ; the thought is born on the lips of all, and it is for the 
simple reason that he can not give it complete utterance until 
the hour has struck, and humanity has got so far that the new 
thing is said from necessity. 

Some people consider that The Dolfs House shows the ex- 
aggeration of genius, and not the beautiful balanced revelation 


of a newly reached awakenedness in our moral conscience ; 
others admit that the Oriental idea of marriage must be given 
up, but ask why the play ends with a breaking off, and not a 
warning? Nora's own words to Helmer give the answer ; but 
she speaks so like and so unlike the old morally unconscious 
being whose development we have been following step by step, 
that we are unwilling to recognize her words in their full mean- 
ing. Perhaps it could be philosophically demonstrated that to 
say this does her great injustice, the same injustice that she 
complains her father and husband did her : no one will ever 
begin to treat her as a human being, no one shows honorable 
and real respect for her own responsibility, and she has the 
same right to it as a man has. Perhaps all this could be proved, 
but feeling is only convinced by feeling or by reality. 

Let us, then, construct another ending to the play. Let us 
suppose that the doll's house does not fall to pieces, but that 
Helmer keeps his old delusion as to Nora's being a weak creat- 
ure. There is no doubt that he would act exactly as he spoke ; 
he would forgive her, and, since the time for education had be- 
gun, he would be a most careful schoolmaster. Nora would 
take no step without his help ; she would be just as much tied 
and bound as before, with no will or conscience of her own. 

He says, " I have power to become another man." She re- 
plies, "Yes, when your doll is taken from you." She is proba- 
bly right ; but it is certain that unless it happens, this loving 
husband, the faithful, and, as some would say, the " morally " 
loving man, will never change, never for a moment come near 
guessing what morality in love really is : the effort to make the 
beloved one free, awakened, responsible, true, pure-hearted, 
noble, and strong, instead of enslaving and making the beloved 
dependent, irresponsible, double, needing help, slavish-minded, 
and clinging. Helmer, who has such an intense wish to be a 
patron, and has such an artificially developed gift for patroniz- 
ing, must continue to believe he possesses at least one being 
destined for liberty, conscientious life, and personality as his 
private slave, who is favored by partiality, and shielded wisely, 
tenderly, and chivalrously. He wilt be sure to go on in the 


belief that there is at least one fellow-creature who has no will 
but his, even if outside home's shelter he is often tried, as he 
probably will be, by painful miscalculation in such matters ; 
e. g., if the Bank staff were to be ungrateful for his fostering 
care of them, and his humane attempt to absorb their person- 
ality in his own. The " doll," the dream-creature to whom he 
gave Nora's shape, is not to be taken from him ; he is to be able 
to go on hugging that untrue view of half humanity to his broad 
breast just as a child hugs its doll. He is to suffer much, be- 
cause he is an intelligent and sensitive man, but he is not to 
suffer in that way by having his eyes opened to what Nora is : 
Woman, or the woman who should have been the angel of free- 
dom to him. 

But if this constructed ending to the play be rejected, surely 
a happy one of some sort -could be found ? A novelist's mouth 
must be watering to make Helmer lose his money t. g., by 
Krogstad working him out of the Bank and then Nora is to 
work for him and win his love. But we know that Nora has not 
this sort of ascendancy in development, nor can have with the 
education life has so far given her. Torvald's illness did not 
reveal them to each other, nor did eight years' struggle with 
poverty. Ibsen has intentionally barred that outlet for us. The 
struggle would only set Nora's energy in motion, till she found 
it was praised like a good child's task, but not with respect, not 
with humanity's charter of freedom open, high-minded, de- 
roted trust. When she saw that that "miracle" did not come 
she would grow weary. And garlanded slavery under poverty's 
roof would be no better, but rather worse, than it was under the 
roof of prosperity. 

In all trials common to both Helmer would do his duty, 
preserve his equilibrium, and remain just what he always was. 
For he is a "gentleman " : let us give him full credit for that ; 
but he is not a real man. and years would but mark this more 
clearly. His principles would dry up into mere maxims, his 
duty, honor, taste, and judgment into routine, till he ended in 
being one of those faultless persons whom no one would dream 
of exchanging ideas with on any subject, great or small, but 


who, on the contrary, are listened to by tacit understanding 
with a respectful smile when they are so obliging as to commu- 
nicate any view they happen to hold. 

Some are ready to agree, "We never were deeply imbued 
with belief in Mr. Helmer's ideality ; but why did Nora run 
away in such haste? We can not see that she gained anything, 
poor creature, or that her little children did by losing her moth- 
erly care." Let us see if we can justify the mistake with which 
they thus charge Ibsen. Their words imply that the story of 
the forgery, the agony of mind during Christmas week, the ex- 
planation between husband and wife, were a mere accidental 
disturbance, that in a week it would all be forgotten, as Helmer 
says, and buried in a month or two. At first, no doubt, Nora 
would be merrier and more docile than ever, and Helmer fonder 
of his wife than even in the days when their home-life first be- 
gan. But as the weeks went by Nora would be neither her 
present nor her former self. As the memory of the great day 
faded, a nervousness would creep over her such as Helmer 
never dreamed of. Either she would ask his opinion every 
other minute, evidently to get rid of some secret restlessness, 
or, without asking it, she would be found undertaking things 
that in the old days it would never have occurred to her to at- 
tempt alone. And if Helmer did not answer her questions she 
would cry, and if he quietly expressed his surprise at his wife's 
taking her own course, she would break out into wounding as- 
sertions, always ending with the one that decided him to dis- 
patch Krogstad's dismissal ; that he is petty. 

Helmer would now begin to find it is high time to fulfill his 
promise of leaving the stage of play, and devoting himself to 
that of education. He adds that occupation to all his others in 
an orderly way, and with the great power of getting through 
work that we know him to possess. He would try first one 
thing and then another. That Mrs. Krogstad is not the most 
suitable companion for Nora would be his earliest discovery in 
his work of reformation. Result : Nora sometimes really avoids 
Christina, at others as often as possible contrives to meet her 
without Torvald's knowing it. She wants to tell her daily hopes 


and troubles to the industrious, sympathetic woman who was her 
friend in childhood, and all the time contrives to appear to her 
husband as desiring no society but his. The attempt to be Will 
and Conscience to another shows its usual results : deception, 
hypocrisy, crooked ways, duplicity, loss of trust, absence of ease, 
joy, and healthiness in daily intercourse, and a habit of covering 
the abyss with artificial liveliness that seems to have taken root 
very quickly. 

Let us suppose, however, that Helmer makes himself into a 
domestic school inspector of Nora's ways with the children, and 
points out that if she is to do her duty by them and have time 
for him too, she must shop less and spend less time with her 
dressmaker. Nora would try ; but some day or other in the 
middle of one of his nursery inspections, questions would burst 
from her lips such as, What is skill with children ? How much 
" self-control " and " method " is to be expected from them with- 
out sacrificing their individuality ? and, What things ought one 
to pretend not to see ? 

Helmer wonders when his discoveries in this strange woman's 
nature will come to an end, and where she can have got this 
new barrier from that hinders husband and wife from their com- 
mon work. 

Such signs of self-guidance touch the most sensitive point in 
his view of life, as they always have done. We can hear him 
say, as he did once before, " Now we'll put an end to this once 
and for all." 

He is not eager about it ; he wishes to spare her so far as 
possible. He says little ; but what he does say so oppresses 
Nora that she loses what little pleasure she ever took in the de- 
velopment of Ivar, Bob, and Emmy. But when a person like 
Nora once gets frightened there is an element of rebellion in it ; 
feeling in the dark as she is after self-dependence, when she may 
not create something she must at least destroy. So at one time 
she is cold and dull with the children, at another she spoils them, 
and fills their heads with the idea they " must not tell papa." 
The new dominion over her Conscience and Will has only led 
her to fresh lies ; it has only dragged her deeper into the mud, 


and this time it is the children's turn to go with her and get 
soiled. Thus Boredom will settle down on that home as on 
thousands of other homes. But that was not the air that was 
wafted toward us when the curtain first rose. The air was rest- 
less perhaps, but one felt there were possibilities. 

Is Helmer a bad man, then ; coarse, dilatory, or boisterous 
and domineering at times ? No, he is quoted everywhere as a 
model husband, and not without reason. He is merely color- 
blind in one direction, educated into color-blindness. 

One thing is certain, that amid all this new order of things 
he yearns for the lark and the squirrel, the careless gayety of the 
Nora that used to be, and that is sometimes now when she 
makes an effort. Then it strikes him that it is unnatural to shut 
up a young and beautiful woman ; so he takes her into society 
to obliterate the past that perhaps preys on her mind, and to 
" draw out the child in her nature." For wise men think a 
woman never grows, or that it is happier for her not to grow, 
and that she can be stunted in her growth, as it used to be 
thought puppies could by brandy. 

A glance around us shows us many women arrested thus, 
many rich young souls prevented from ever becoming real 
women. It is a social murder whose results are most disastrous 
for human destiny. It means that homes can get amiable host- 
esses without husbands getting loving wives, or children loving 
mothers. Will this succeed in Nora's case ? She is not a doll, 
but will Society's stupefying agencies make her into one a 
model doll, a splendid example of self-satisfied, undeveloped 
humanity, who will be described as perfectly comme il faut? 

Readers who desire this say, " We can not see into each 
others' hearts, and Nora's inner life may be anything she pleases ; 
but a well-bred woman should always seem at ease, and make it 
possible for us to have dealings with her." Nora will never 
come up to their expectations. There is something untamed in 
her that will make her sin continually against worldly rules. She 
might dress as becomingly as any one, but there her likeness to 
others would end. She does not belong to the class of women 
whose two sections are the coquette and the prude, both being 


the Doll grown to full stature. Such women are her only ene- 
mies. They can lay aside conscience and ideality without loss 
of charm, they can never be free nor make others free, never 
love. They point in the opposite direction to rule and be 
ruled ; they use freedom's means in the service of slavery. I? 
is useless to expect this of Nora. Her power of freedom, her 
need to love and live really are too strong to allow it, and will 
lead her to break up life again and again if Helmer continues 
unawakened from his idea that conscience, will, personality, de- 
velopment, human dignity are notions that concern man only, 
and this not for himself alone, but for woman as represented by 


The associates Helmer would summon to help him in draw- 
ing out Nora by society would find their pupil too hard to 
manage, too individual, too inscrutable for them. She would 
win no friends among women of the world. And although she 
is one of those to whom men feel drawn, she wfll never secure 
one thorough friend among them. She does not wish to, since 
she found out Dr. Rank thought she had been making advances 
to him She will behave in a strikingly unsuitable manner in 
society ; either too full of herself or too indifferent In either 
case she will wound Helmer's fine sense of what is fitting. 
Sometimes she will show unrestrained feeling, as she did in the 
Tarantella, because she is secretly worried about something : 
at another she will take no interest in what is going on around 
her. And if anybody in society turns specially to her as though 
to draw a little nearer to her real self, nothing will be got out 
of her except some utterly unsuitable answer ; an answer to the 
thing instead of an answer that conveys an agreeable recogni- 
tion of the questioner's polite attention. 

So Nora will get no recompense in society for her losses at 
home her husband's growing precision, or the children's mixt- 
ure of affection and disrespect, when at one time she is able 
behind their father's back to give them what they want, and at 
another can not do what she promised them. 

A few glimpses of happiness for Nora, and a sort of sad rest 
for Helmer, may, however, come into their ruined home ; not 


when the family is alone, for then the tension is only too plain, 
but when they give small parties, and the hostess is able to lay 
down her own rules for etiquette, and charms herself into a 
fancied self-guidance and liberty for a few hours. Young peo- 
ple will feel particularly happy on these occasions, and Nora 
will flash out for a few moments and seem young again. When 
all this is over, Torvald, who is still in love with her, will spend 
long hours in painfully pondering what it is that he has done, 
that his young, happy, warm world has been cut away from 
under him, that he, though he has continued master in his own 
home, really has no home now ? 

Need we follow them further? into the critical years when 
the absence of ideality has made them grotesque, when young 
people laugh in Helmer's face at his way of playing le pere 
noble ; when Nora is middle-aged, and some chance opening 
of the box where a pair of silk stockings has lain " ever since 
that night " tempts from mamma's lips a neat little description 
of her triumphs at the costume ball, ending with the remark 
that Emmy has her mother's foot and ankle, but she " must not 
think of putting on that charming dress and dancing with the 
tambourine, poor little Emmy ! or let out that she has even 
seen them ; papa can't bear such things, you know." 

Such, then, is what in the most favorable circumstances a 
mere " warning " must have brought Nora and Helmer to, 
being what they were by nature and education. We should 
see Nora selfish, but with the selfishness that is more or less in 
every natural woman s heart, which unchecked and suppressed 
destroys either her whole woman's personality or the happiness 
and honor of all around her, but raised to the moral plane of 
freedom would, on the contrary, have saved both. And we 
should see Helmer selfish, in a certain sense more so than 
Nora ; but selfish with the egoism of his sex, with satisfaction 
that he is a man, and not a woman, rather than with any very 
exaggerated individual egoism. He is typical of the class of 
men on whom the punishment falls most heavily of women not 
getting a true human education, but being brought up to self- 
deception instead, and it is rather the punishment of his whole 


sex that he bears than any tragic fate of his own in bearing the 
consequences of not having promoted his wife's human devel- 

Let us now see what prospect there is of reconciliation be- 
tween the Adam and Eve whom Ibsen drives out of their 
Paradise into the world of consciousness. Everything in the 
play strengthens our perception of the bare truth that these two 
people have by their life together brought matters to such a 
pass, that before anything good can come to them, Helmer 
must try to come to himself, and Nora to herself. And at the 
last moment there seems a prospect that they will achieve it 
some day. And earthly life offers no truer ground for recon- 
ciliation than this, if we believe development to be the end of 
our existence. Every right-thinking person must feel com- 
pelled to admit that Nora's fight for existence as it faces her 
in all its cruelty deserves our love a thousand times more than 
any return to the doll's house conditions of ruining herself, her 
husband, and her children ; but this by no means prevents his 
feeling painfully affected by the idea of Helmer's petted wife, 
Ivar's, Bob's, and Emmy's merry little mother, going away and 
shutting the door between herself and them. It is the only 
violent action in the last scene, and it makes us feel all the 
indescribable pain that must weigh on that undeveloped, newly 
roused being on the threshold between her past and her future. 

What is the outlook for him who is left behind on the stage, 
between his certainty of crushed happiness and the hope of 
higher things arising ? He thought himself so pure-hearted and 
justifiable in everything ; he finds he only possessed a favorite 
slave. Is it only mechanically that he repeats her words, " the 
greatest miracle," or does a new hope arise within him ? The 
poet bids us think he has some new hope. Is it that Nora will 
repent and return ? Her last words are too clear ; she expects 
a radical change in him. Through all the mist of his senses 
and prejudices has he not caught a glimpse of the real Nora, 
the higher Eros, whom Socrates calls the oldest of all the gods, 
and, bowed to the earth with blushes, yet thankful he has 
learned to blush, does he not say to himself, " A woman, too, is 


intended to be a human being?" Then he asks, "Am I a 
human being? Have I not made a slave of her who might 
have helped me to freedom ? " 

How near to freedom he is no one can determine, not even 
the poet himself, because the path to freedom is one that can 
not be marked out beforehand. But everything in the play in- 
dicates that he will attain it. And if he does, it will be no 
small matter that in everything but what concerned Nora he 
was an honest man. 

Since the idea in The Doll's House is plain to all, we will 
now inquire what means Ibsen selected from every-day life to 
make his meaning clear. The kernel of every home is its 
womanly principle, and the kernel of Ibsen's play is Nora's 
character. He means to make a modern home go to pieces 
before our very eyes from some necessity within itself. It must 
contain everything that can attract : simplicity, gladness, power 
of work, good temper, gentle and strong regard, love of beauty, 
merry little children, friends, well-managed servants, good 
habits, good reputation, a position that has at length been won 
by praiseworthy endeavors, etc. ; but also a husband who has 
such an essentially false idea of happiness between man and 
woman, that it has practically undermined this delightful home, 
and it is ready to fall in at any moment. 

The husband, too, is such a pleasant man that his Oriental 
view of woman is ennobled, so far as a view can be that is so 
inhuman and wounding to us. His belief, not that humanity 
is creation's king, but that man is, comes out in a kind, quiet 
way, if ever otherwise, he soon recovers his Oriental manly 
dignity, as though to say : I forgot myself. I judged her as 
though she were a human being. In my haste I overlooked the 
fact of her being only a woman. But it shall not happen twice. 
Henceforth I will abide faithful and true to my principle that I, 
and I only, bear the burden and responsibility for us both. 

If these presumptions are sufficiently unmistakable at every 
turn in the play, the spectator knows from the very beginning 
that some of the indispensable conditions for healthy develop- 


ment are wanting, and that the breaking up of the doll's house 
is only a question of time. 

But it might have lasted a lifetime, as so many false mar- 
riages dOj and in that case it would not have been a suitable 
subject for a play. The dramatist did not need for his object a 
strong character, such as could have set the wrong right, and 
kept the home together ; or a " passive " woman, whose will is 
dead ; or one with " a broken heart " : or a superficial person, 
who ends in being satisfied with trifles ; or one who suffers, and 
weeps, and sighs ; or one of those who combine any of these 
characters with that of a prude or a coquette. Any one of these 
women would have delayed the climax, so as to destroy dra- 
matic possibilities ; nor would a large and highly religious 
womanly figure have been suitable ; still less would one already 
exhausted by homage to propriety and custom. 

Ibsen needed a young creature, loving but undisciplined ; 
full of life, but lacking all principle in thought and action ; 
blind to all but what is nearest at hand, but ready to love with 
her whole strength, that is, to devote all her happiness to what 
is nearest her ; otherwise, cruel with indifferent carelessness, but 
only because no notion of the rights of others, of " strangers," 
has ever been presented to her ; capable as a child of nature is 
of stealing on behalf of her own dear ones, but not capable as 
an artificialized nature is of stealing from them in order to 
gratify her private vanity before strangers with what she has 
thus stolen ; gentle to those nearest her, but not to others or to 
herself ; an uneducated girl who never had a mother ; one who 
as a daughter and a growing girl had to get what poor little ex- 
change of thought she could in the maids' room ; a wife who is 
obliged to choose as her confidential friend her husband's friend, 
and not her husband himself; a beautiful, attractive young 
woman, who feels she is independent, placed in the high posi- 
tion of head of a house, but who, none the less, has come to 
tricking her husband by lie after lie in daily life, half-conscious- 
ly longing, and waiting outside in the darkness, for some change 
that is to come suddenly. " the miracle," she does not exactly 
know what, but its effect is to be that the activity of her soul 


and her husband's are no longer to be allowed to go different 
ways ; that what she tries, what she accomplishes, what she sac- 
rifices, is to be reckoned as human like his. The poet must 
find all these elements like mines ready laid in the woman's 
character, upon which the existence of the home is based. No 
one of them must fail him when the match is put to the train if 
the doll's house is to be blown to unrecognizable pieces before 
our eyes. 

Nora is precisely all this. The poet has now what he wants ; 
it is as in real life : the persons of the action have no notion 
what they are about until the moment of parting. 

When all is falling to pieces, and not a moment sooner, they 
see by a sudden flash how they have been gradually bringing 
their fate on themselves, so that it destroys all the edifice of 
their past life : the man by not having considered the woman's 
personality ; the woman by the man having loved a person who 
does not exist, an illusion the more unfortunate in her case, as 
it turned her best deeds into faults. 

It has been alleged that Nora is not the same person in her 
concluding scene with Helmer as she is throughout the play. 
So far as her understanding goes, she is just the same. Her one 
reproach to Helmer at the end is that he did not take the blame 
on himself, and her calm at the end is so touching because the 
spectator knows what Helmer neither knows nor believes, that 
she was really ready to die to save him from the necessity of 
taking the blame on himself. For she means it in perfect good 
faith ; in a few minutes she will jump into " the cold, black 
water," which does not, however, prevent her, with her childish 
optimism, her habit of succeeding, and her power of telling 
herself tales (such as of the old gentleman who was to leave her 
his property), having some hope that the water might not be 
cold, or not drown her, or might change her into some new 
being, whom no anxiety could threaten. For even in this last 
and most honest resolve to die she is not acting as one fully 
awake, responsible, and conscious. She is all this for the first 
time at the moment she breaks away from Helmer and goes. 
But it is the old Nora, only it is Nora on her most serious side ; 


it is the young and inexperienced woman who after Helmer's 
proper little speech gives her the experience that puts an end 
to her youth, can not help telling him how boundlessly she once 
believed in him. 

The same objection is urged by those who say that she ntteis 
a number of incontestable truths, or, as her enemies describe it, 
" makes a speech " at the end and " preaches the doctrine of the 
future." This, were it true, would prove her to be another 
Nora. But she really speaks as she always has spoken, without 
any calculation whatever. It is but the outburst of human 
nature's own consciousness of itself, but it has been so very 
recently awakened in her. It first awoke in her at the moment 
when she finally discovered the thing whose pain wrung from 
her ... . " It became clear to me that I had been living here 
all these years with a strange man, and had born him three 
children. Oh ! I can not bear to think of it ! I could tear my- 
self in pieces!" 

Till then she had never guessed that her husband's Oriental 
view of life's task as adjusted to the two sexes had been a 
serious one, which had reduced her to a mere Thing, day after 
day the dearest thing in all the world, but not a human being, 
not his peer. The moment she not only guessed this, but knew 
it with the most deadly cold certainty, every spark of womanly 
instinct told her in that second all that can ever be taught or 
known about it. 

Nora herself is the Chorus to all the previous action through 
the general truths she finally utters, but it is precisely because 
she only gets to know them at the very moment she utters them. 
It is just on such occasions as this that people do speak, unless 
feeling chokes their words. 

Nora's being able to speak harmonizes with her whole self. 
Helmer has always been mistaken in his notion that she was 
"weak" ; it was part of his take theory of a wife. She is 
rather strong than not, as appears in all her doings. And if 
women in general come to act more, the same thing will cause 
surprise in countless cases. Weakness is most often nothing 
but destroyed power of thinking and doing It is because her 


character is so capable of strong devotion that she can go away 
when she finds she would do harm by staying, and can speak 
out all the hard new truths, feeling as she does that she is no 
more fit to stay and educate him into them than he is to educate 

But people shoot beside the mark, too, when thay will not 
see the subject of The Dolfs ffouse as one of universal human 
application, when they think that Ibsen wanted to make Helmer 
hateful. What Ibsen wanted to make hateful, and what he has 
made hateful, is Helmer's false view of half humanity a view 
that still is the view of life that most men hold, and that makes 
it possible for a man to be every inch a gentleman without being 
for that reason a human being ; to believe he loves a woman, 
and at the same time think he can be Will and Conscience for 
her ; that makes it possible for a woman to call these habits 
of thought in men Chivalry, and exercise every quality of her 
inner and outward being only to secure the small triumphs of 
an odalisk, while at the same time she believes herself a pure- 
hearted woman, believes that she loves, believes that she really 

It is this social pest, this expression of what is unnatural, 
that Ibsen hates. For it is unnatural, standing as it does side 
by side with such a highly developed notion of individuality as 
that now current in society. And Ibsen hates this not because 
he delights to hate, but because, as a poet, he loves individuality 
with all his heart, and womanly individuality above all, as the 
friendly, dawning promise for all our retarded human develop, 
ment, as the most promising side in the gospel of Man, as the 
daylight side of the future. 




A room comfortably and tastefully, but not 

expensively, furnished. 

( To the right a door leads to the Hall ; to the left another 
door in the background to Helmers study. Between 
the two doors a pianoforte. 

In the middle of the left wall a door, and some- 
what nearer the front a window. Near the window 
a round table with an arm-chair and a small sofa. 
In the right wall, somewhat to the back, a door. In 
the same wall, more forward, a stove of porcelain, 
by it a couple of arm-chairs and a rocking-chair. 
Between the stove and the side door a small table. 
Engravings on the walls. An etagere with china 
and small curiosities. A small book-case of showily 
bound books. Carpet. A fire burns in the stove. 

It is winter. 


bell rings in the hall outside. Presently the hall- 
door is heard opened. NORA walks into the room 
humming contentedly. She is in walking dress. 


and has several parcels in her arms, which she lays 
on the right-hand table. She leaves the door into 
the hall open behind her, and a PORTER is seen 
standing outside, carrying a Christmas tree and a 
basket ; he gives these to the maid-servant who opened 
the door. 

NORA. Be sure you hide the Christmas-tree most 
carefully, Ellen ; so that the children don't on any 
account catch sight of it before this evening, when 
it is dressed and lit. ( To the PORTER, taking out her 
pursed) How much ? 

PORTER. Sixpence, if you please, ma'am. 

NORA. There is a shilling . . . No, keep the 
change. (The PORTER thanks her and goes. NORA 
shuts the door. She continues smiling with quiet con- 
tentment as she takes off her walking things. Then she 
takes from her pocket a box of sweetmeats, and eats some. 
As she does so, she steps cautiously to her husband's door 
and listens.} Yes ; he is home. (She begins hum- 
ming again, walking to the right-hand table.) 

HELMER (in his room). Is that my lark who is 
twittering outside there ? 

NORA (busy opening some of her parcels). Yes, it is. 

HELMER. Is it the little squirrel running about ? 

NORA. Yes. 

HELMER. When did it get home ? 

NORA. Just this minute. (Hides the box of sweet- 
meats in her pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in 
here, Torvald, and see what I have bought. 

HELMER. I can't be interrupted now. (A little 


later he opens the door and looks in, pen in hand.) 
"Bought," did you say? What! all that heap of 
things ? Has my little spendthrift bird been wast- 
ing more money ? 

NORA. But, Torvald, we really can waste a little 
now. It is positively the first Christmas we aren't 
obliged to pinch. 

HELMER. Yes ; but 111 tell you what : We must- 
n't waste money either. 

NORA. Still, Torvald, we may venture to spend a 
little already, mayn't we? just a very, very little. 
You have really got a capital position, and you'll be 
earning ever so much- money. 

HELMER. Yes, from New Year's Day. But there 
is a whole quarter before my next salary is due. 

NORA. Never mind ; we can borrow for that 
little time. 

HELMER. Nora ! (He steps toward her and takes 
her playfully by the ear.) Is your heedlessness run- 
ning away with you again ? Supposing that I bor- 
rowed fifty pounds to-day, and you spent it during 
Christmas week, and that on New Year's Day a 
tile blew off the roof and struck my head, and I 
were . . . 

NORA (stopping his mouth). Stuff ! How can you 
say such horrid things ! 

HELMER. But, supposing anything of the kind 
were to happen. What then ? 

NORA. If such a misfortune were to happen, I 
should not care whether I had debts or whether I 


HELMER. But what about the people I had bor- 
rowed from ? 

NORA. Those people ! Who would trouble about 
them? They would be strangers, of course. 

HELMER. Nora, Nora ! you are a mere baby. 
But seriously, dear child, you know my way of think- 
ing about such matters. No debts ! Never borrow ! 
Home life ceases to be free and beautiful directly its 
foundations are Borrowing and Debts. We two 
have held out bravely till now, and we will do so for 
the little time now remaining. 

NORA {going to the fireplace). Ye s. Just as you 
like, Torvald. 

HELMER (following her.} Come, come ; my lark 
must not let her wings droop immediately . . . 
What ! wry faces ? (takes out his purse). Nora, what 
do you think I've got here ? 

NORA (turning round quickly). Money! 

HELMER. There (gives her some notes). By Jove ! 
don't I know that all sorts of things are wanted at 
Christmas ? 

NORA (counting). Ten, twenty, thirty, forty. Oh ! 
thank you, thank you, Torvald. This will help me 
on for a long while to come. 

HELMER. That is just what I hope. 

NORA. Yes, indeed ; for a long while. But now 
you must come, too, and see all I have been buying. 
And so cheap ! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar, 
and a little sword as well. Here are a little horse 
and a trumpet for Bob. And here are a doll and a 
cradle for Emmy. They are only common ; but she 


will soon pull them all to pieces. And here I've got 
dresses and neckties for Ellen and Mary Ann. Only 
I ought to have got something better for Mary Ann. 

HELMER. And what is that in the other parcel ? 

NORA (crying out). No, Torvald, you're not to see 
that before this evening. 

HELMER. Oh ! ah. But now tell me, you little 
spendthrift, what you have got for yourself. 

NORA. Never mind me. I don't want anything 
for myself. 

HELMER. But I am sure you do. Just tell me 
something sensible you would like to have. 

NORA. No; I really know of nothing . . . Yes; 
listen, Torvald. 

HELMER. Well? 

NORA (playing with his coat buttons, without looking 
him in the face). If you want to give me something, 
you might, you know, you might . . . 

HELMER. Well, well ? Out with it ! 

NORA (quickly}. You might give me the money, 
Torvald. Only just as much as you think you can 
spare ; then I will buy myself something with it later 

HELMER. But, Nora 

NORA. Oh, please do, dear Torvald, I beg and 
implore you. Then I would hang the money in 
lovely gilt paper on the Christmas tree. Wouldn't 
that be funny? 

HELMER. What do people call the bird who al- 
ways spends everything? 

NORA. Yes, I know : a spendthrift, of course. 


But please do what I ask you, Torvald. Then I 
shall have time to think what I most want. Is not 
that very sensible ? Come ! 

HELMER (smiling). Certainly ; that is to say, it 
would be if you really kept the money I gave you, 
and really bought yourself something with it. But 
it all goes in housekeeping, and for all sorts of use- 
less things, and then I have to find more. 

NORA. But, Torvald . . . 

HELMER. Can you deny it, Nora dear? (He 
puts his arm round her.) My lark is the dearest lit- 
tle thing in the world ; but she needs a very great 
deal of money. No one would believe how expen- 
sive it comes to keep such a little bird. 

NORA. Rubbish ! how can you talk so ? I am 
sure I am as careful as I can be. 

HELMER (smiling). Very true as careful as you 
can be. But you can't be careful at all. 

NORA (hums and smiles in quiet satisfaction). 
Hm m. You should just know, Torvald, what ex- 
penses larks and squirrels have. 

HELMER. What an odd little woman you are ! 
Just like your father always eager to get hold of 
money. But the moment you have it, it seems to 
slip through your fingers somehow ; you never know 
how you got rid of it. Well, one must take you as 
you are. It's in the blood. Yes, my dear Nora, 
you may say what you please, but things of that sort 
are inheritable. 

NORA. Ah ! there are many things I wish I had 
inherited from father. 


HELMER. And I couldn't wish you to be any- 
thing but exactly what you are my own, true, little 
lark. But ... I say ... it strikes me ... you 
look so, so what shall I call it ? to-day ... so 

NORA. Do I ? 

HELMER. Yes, really. Look me full in the 

NORA (looking at him). Well ? 

HELMER (threatening with his finger). Hasn't that 
little mouth, that is so fond of sugar-plums, been 
eating some in the town ? 

NORA. Gracious ! no. How can you think any- 
thing of the kind about me ? 

HELMER. Didn't the little mcuth just look in at 
the confectioner's ? 

NORA. No, I assure you, Torvald. . . . 

HELMER. Not to taste one dainty dish ? 

NORA. No ; most certainly not. 

HELMER. Not so much as to try a few sweet- 
meats ? 

NORA. No, Torvald, I really do assure you. . . . 

HELMER. Well, well, well ; of course I'm only 

NORA (goes to the right-hand table). I should not 
think of doing what you disapprove of. 

HELMER. I know, dear ; and you have given me 
your word (steps to her). No ; keep your little 
Christmas secrets all to yourself, Nora, dear. They 
will come to light this very evening, when the Christ- 
mas tree is lit 


NORA. Have you also thought to invite Doctor 

HELMER. No. But that is not necessary ; it is 
an understood thing that he dines with us. Besides, 
I shall tell him when he looks in to-day. I have 
ordered some capital wine. Nora, you can not think 
how I look forward to this evening ! 

NORA. So do I. And how the children will 
shout for joy, Torvald ! 

HELMER. Oh ! it really is glorious to know that 
one has made one's position, and has ample means. 
Isn't the consciousness of it a great enjoyment ? 

NORA. I should think it is, indeed. 

HELMER. Do you recollect last Christmas ? Three 
whole weeks beforehand you used to shut yourself 
up till long past midnight in order to make flowers 
to trim the Christmas tree, and get ready all the 
other magnificent things to surprise us with. It was 
the most wearisome time I ever lived through. 

NORA. It did not weary me at all. 

HELMER (smiling). We did not see much for your 

NORA. Oh ! will you never leave off teasing me 
about that? How could I help it if the cat did get 
in and tear everything I had made to pieces ? 

HELMER. To be sure, you couldn't help it, my 
poor little Nora. You set to work to prepare us a 
treat with the best will in the world, and that is the 
chief matter. . . . But, nevertheless, it is a good 
thing that hard times are over. 

NORA. It is, Torvald. 


HELMER. Now I needn't sit here all by myself, 
getting more bored every minute ; and you needn't 
tire your eyes and your delicate little fingers. . . . 

NORA (clapping her hands). It is really true, isn't 
it. Ton-aid, that I needn't do it any more ? Oh ! 
how splendid ! (takes his arm). And now I will tell 
you, darling, how it has been striking me we ought 
to arrange matters. . . . Directly Christmas is over 
(the hall door-bell rings). . . . Oh, there's a ring ! 
(shf advances part-way across the room). That is 
somebody come to call. How vexing ! 

HELMER. I am "not at home " to callers. Don't 
forget that. 


ELLEN (in the doorway to NORA). A strange lady 
wishes to see you, ma'am. 

NORA. Show her in. 

ELLEN (to HELMER). And the doctor is just 
come. sir. 

HELMER. Has he gone into my study? 

ELLEN. Yes, sir (HELMER goes into his study. 
ELLEN brings in MRS. LINDEN, in traveling costume, 
and shuts the door behind her). 



MRS. LINDEN (timidly and slowly). How do you 
do, Nora? 

NORA (uncertain who she is). How do you do ? 


MRS. LINDEN. I dare say you do not know me 

NORA. No, I really ... oh, yes I think (break- 
ing fort fi). What! Christina! Is it really you ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; it is I, indeed. 

NORA. Christina ! and to think I did not recog- 
nize you ! How could I not. . . . {More softly.} 
How altered you are, Christina ! 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; in nine . . . ten long years. 

NORA. Is it really so long since we met ? Yes, 
it positively is. Oh ! the last eight years have been 
a happy time, I can tell you. And now you have 
come to town ? all this long journey in midwinter ! 
That was brave of you. 

MRS. LINDEN. I have this moment arrived by the 

NORA. In order to have some fun at Christmas 
time, to be sure. Oh, how delightful that is ! Yes, 
fun we certainly will have. But take your things 
off. Aren't you frozen ? (helps her to take her things 
off}. There ! now we will sit down here cosily by 
the fire. No ; in that arm-chair ; I will sit here in 
the rocking-chair. Yes, now you are showing 
me your dear old face again. It was only the 
first moment I saw you. . . . But you are a lit- 
tle paler, Christina, and perhaps a shade thinner, 

MRS. LINDEN. And much, much older, Nora. 

NORA. Yes, perhaps a little older, too a little 
wee bit, not much. (She suddenly stops ; seriously.} 
Oh ! what a thoughtless creature I am ! Here I sit 


chattering on, and Dear, good Christina, can you 
forgive me ? 

MRS. LINDEN. What do you mean, Nora ? 

NORA (softly). Poor Christina ! is it true you are 
a widow ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; three years ago. 

NORA. Ah ! I was sure of it. I read it in the 
newspaper, you know. Oh, do believe, Christina 
dear, I often meant to write to you then ; but I 
kept putting it off, and something always hindered 

MRS. LINDEN. I can very well understand that, 
Nora dear. 

NORA. No, Christina ; it was dreadful of me. 
Oh, you poor darling ! how much you must have 
gone through. . . . And he really left you nothing 
in the world to live upon ? 


NORA. And no children either ? 


NORA. Then really nothing whatever ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Not even a sorrow or a regret. 

NORA (looking at her incredulously). But, my 
dear Christina, how is that possible ? 

MRS. LINDEN (smiling sadly and stroking far hair). 
Oh, it happens so sometimes, Nora. 

NORA. So utterly lonely. . . . How awfully hard 
that must be for you ! I have three of the dearest 
children that ever were. But I can't show them to 
you just now; they are out walking with nurse. 
However, now you must tell me your whole story. 


MRS. LINDEN. No, no, I would rather hear yours. 

NORA. No ; you must begin ; I won't be egotis- 
tical to-day. To-day I will think of you only. But 
one thing I really must tell you. Or do you know 
already what great happiness has fallen to our lot in 
the last few days ? 

MRS. LINDEN. No. What is it? 

NORA. Only think ! My husband has been made 
Manager of the Joint Stock Bank. 

MRS. LINDEN. Your husband ! Oh, that is really 
a great piece of luck. 

NORA. Yes; tremendous, isn't it? A profes- 
sional man's position is so uncertain, especially 
when he will not be concerned in any business ex- 
cept what is fit for a gentleman and respectable. 
And naturally Torvald would not do any other busi- 
ness ; and in that matter I quite agreed with him. 
Oh ! you may well believe how heartily glad we are. 
He will enter his new position on New Year's Day? 
and then he will have a large salary, and high per- 
centages on the business done. In future we shall 
be able to live in a very different style from the way 
we have lived hitherto just as we please, in fact. 
Oh, Christina, I feel so light and happy. ... It 
really is beautiful, isn't it, to have a great deal of 
money, and be able to live without anxiety. Now 
isn't it ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; it can not but be delight- 
ful to have bare necessaries. 

NORA. No, not only bare necessaries, but a 
great deal of money heaps ! 


MRS. LINDEN (smiling). Nora, Nora, haven't 
you grown sensible yet? In our school days you 
were a great spendthrift. 

NORA (quietly smiling). Yes ; Torvald says I am 
so still (threatens with her finger). But " Nora, Nora,' ' 
is not so silly as you all think. Oh! our circum- 
stances have really not been such that I could be a 
spendthrift. We both had to work. 

MRS. LINDEN. You as well ? 

NORA. Yes, really light fancy work : knitting, 
crochet, and things of that sort (raguf/j), and also 
other work. I suppose you know that when we mar- 
ried Torvald quitted the Government service ? He 
had no prospect of being promoted, and yet he cer- 
tainly had to earn more money than before. But I do 
assure you that the first year he overworked himself 
quite terribly. You can easily understand that he was 
naturally obliged to get all the extra work he could 
and toil from morning till night. It was too much for 
him, and he fell dangerously ill. Then the doctors 
declared it was necessary for him to go to the South. 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; you spent a whole year in 
Italy, didn't you ? 

NORA. We did. It was not an easy matter to 
arrange, I can assure you. Ivar was only just born 
then. But we had to go. Oh, it was a delicious 
journey ! And it saved Torvald's life. But it cost 
an awful sum of money, Christina. 

MRS. LINDEN. You needn't tell me that, dear. 

NORA. Three hundred pounds. That's a great 
deal, isn't it ? 


MRS. LINDEN. But in such cases it is, after 
all, a most fortunate thing to have the money to 

NORA. Yes ; I ought to tell you I got it from 

MRS. LINDEN. Ah; I see. It was just about the 
time he died, I think ? 

NORA. Yes, Christina, just then. And think 
what it was for me not to be able to go to him and 
nurse him ! I was expecting little Ivar's birth daily 
And then I had my Torvald to nurse, who was dan- 
gerously ill too. Dear, good father ! I never saw 
him again, Christina. Oh ! that is the hardest thing 
I have had to bear since I married. 

MRS. LINDEN. I know you were devotedly fond 
of your father. And then you and your husband 
started for Italy ? 

NORA. Yes ; a month later. By that time we 
had the money ; and the doctors were so peremp- 

MRS. LINDEN. And your husband returned com- 
pletely cured ? 

NORA. Sound as a bell. 

MRS. LINDEN. But the Doctor? 

NORA. What about him ? 

MRS. LINDEN. I thought your servant said that 
the gentleman who came in just when I did was the 
Doctor . . . 

NORA. Yes, it was Doctor Rank. But he does 
not pay any professional visits here. He is our best 
friend, and comes in to chat with us at least once 


every day. No, Torvald has not had an hour's ill- 
ness since we went to Italy. And the children, too, 
are so healthy and well, and so am I. (Jumps up 
and claps her hands.) Oh, dear ! oh, dear ! Chris- 
tina, it is indeed delicious to live and be happy ! 
Oh, but it is really horrible of me ! I am talking 
about nothing but my own concerns (sits down upon, 
a footstool close to her and lays her arms on Christina's 
knee). Oh! don't be angry with me for it Now 
just tell me, is it really true that you couldn't endure 
your husband ? Why ever did you marry him, then ? 

MRS. LINDEN. My mother was living at that 
time, and she was ill. and helpless ; and then I had 
my two younger brothers to provide for. I consid- 
ered it my duty to accept him. 

NORA, Oh, yes. I dare say you were right there. 
Then he was rich in those days ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Very well off indeed, I believe. 
But his business was not sound, Nora. When he 
died it all fell to pieces, and there was nothing left 

NORA. And then? 

MRS. LINDEN. Then I had to try to make my 
way by keeping a small shop, a little school, and any- 
thing else I could get. The last three years have 
been for me one long working-day, without a mo- 
ment's rest But now it is over, Nora dear. My 
poor mother no longer needs me : she is at rest in 
her grave. Nor do the boys need me : they are in 
business, and can provide for themselves. 

NORA. How relieved you must feel ! 

MRS. LINDEN. No, Nora; only inexpressibly 


empty. To have nobody you can devote your life 
to! (stands up restless). That is why I could not 
bear to stay any longer in that out-of-the-way little 
town. It must be easier to find something here that 
really has a claim upon one and occupies one's 
thoughts. If I could but be so fortunate as to get 
a fixed post some office-work. 

NORA. But, Christina, that is so terribly tiring, 
and you look so overdone already. It would be far 
better for you if you could go to some cheerful wa- 
tering-place for a while. 

MRS. LINDEN (going to the window). I have no 
father who could give me the money to go, Nora. 

NORA (rising}. Oh ! don't be vexed with me ! 

MRS. LINDEN (going toward her). No, it is rather 
I who must beg your indulgence, Nora dear. The 
worst of a position like mine is that it makes one 
bitter. One has nobody to work for, and yet one is 
obliged to be always slaving and scraping together. 
Besides, one must live, and so one gets selfish. When 
you told me of the happy change in your circum- 
stances you'll hardly believe it but I rejoiced 
more on my own account than on yours. 

NORA. How do you mean ? Ah ! I see. You 
mean Torvald could do something for you. 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; I thought so. 

NORA. And he shall, too, Christina dear. Just 
leave that to me. I shall lead up to it in the most 
delicate manner in the world, and think of some- 
thing pleasant in order to incline him favorably to 
it. Oh ! I should so like to do something for you. 


. MRS. LINDEN. How good of you, Nora, to take 
up my cause so zealously it is doubly good in you, 
who know so little of the troubles and difficulties of 

NORA. I ? I know so little of 

MRS. LINDEN (smiling). Bless me ! a little fancy- 
work, and things of that sort. You are a mere baby, 

NORA (fosses her head and pates the room). I would 
not be so positive if I were you. 

MRS. LINDEN. Really ? 

NORA. You are like everybody else. You none 
of you think that I could be of any real use. 

MRS. LINDEN. Come, come, darling 

NORA. that I have had my trials, too, in this 
troublesome world. 

MRS. LINDEN. Dear Nora, you have just finished 
telling me the whole story of your trials. 

NORA. I dare say the little ones. (Softy.) The 
big trials 1 haven't told you a word about. 

MRS. LINDEN. What great trials ? What do you 
mean ? 

NORA. You look at me so patronizingly, Christina; 
but you wouldn't if you knew alL You are proud of 
having worked so hard and so long for your mother. 

MRS. LINDEN. I am sure I patronize nobody. 
But it is true that I am proud and glad that it was 
my privilege to secure my mother the evening-time 
of her life tolerably free from care. 

NORA. And you are also proud of having done 
all you did for your brothers. 


MRS. LINDEN. It seems to me I have a right to 
be proud of it. 

NORA. I quite agree. But now I will tell you 
something, Christina : I, too, have something to be 
proud and glad about. 

MRS. LINDEN. I don't doubt it. But what do 
you mean ? 

NORA. Not so loud. Suppose Torvald were to 
hear ! On no account must he or anybody know it, 
Christina ; nobody but you. 

MRS. LINDEN. What can it be, my dear ? 

NORA. Come over here (draws her beside her on 
the sofa). Yes ... I too have something to be 
proud and glad about. It was I who saved Tor- 
vald's life. 

MRS. LINDEN. Saved his life ? How saved his 

NORA. I told you about our Italian journey. 
But for that he must have died. 

MRS. LINDEN. So I understood, dear ; and your 
father gave you the needful money. 

NORA (smiling). Yes; so Torvald and every- 
body else believes ; but 

MRS. LINDEN. But . . . 

NORA. Father didn't give us one penny. It was 
I who found the money. 

MRS. LINDEN. You ? The whole of that large sum ? 

NORA. Three hundred pounds. What do you 
say to that ? 

MRS. LINDEN. But, my dear Nora, how was it 
possible ? Did you win it in some lottery ? 


NORA (contemptuously). In a lottery ? Pooh ! 
What would there have been clever in that ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Then wherever did you get it 
from ? 

NORA (hums and smiles mysteriously). Hm ; tra- 
la-la-la ! 

MRS. LINDEN. For you certainly couldn't bor- 
row it. 

NORA. No ? Why not ? 

MRS. LINDEN. My dear love ! how could a wife 
without her husband's consent borrow such an im- 
portant sum as that? 

NORA (throwing her head back). Oh ! when the 
wife is one who has some slight knowledge of busi- 
ness, a woman who knows how to set about things 
with a little wisdom, then . . . 

MRS. LINDEN. But, Nora, I can't in the least 

NORA. Nor need you. It has never been stated 
that I borrowed the money. Perhaps I got it in 
another way (throu's herself back on the sofa). I 
may have got it from some ardent swain or an- 
other. When anybody is so distractingly pretty as 
I am ... 

MRS. LINDEN. You are a fool, Nora. 

NORA. Now I am sure you are intensely curi- 
ous, Christina . . . 

MRS. LINDEN. Listen to me for a moment, Nora 
dear. Haven't you been a little indiscreet ? 

NORA (sitting upright again). Is it indiscreet to 
save one's husband's life ? 


MRS. LINDEN. It seems to me it was indiscreet 
that you, without his knowledge . . . 

NORA. But he mightn't know anything about it. 
Can't you comprehend that ? He was not to guess 
for a single moment how ill he was. The doctors 
told me, and me only, that his life was in danger, 
that nothing could save him but living for a time in 
the South. Don't you suppose I should have tried 
to manage it in some other way first ? I laid before 
him how nice it would be for me if I could go a 
journey abroad such as other married ladies have 
been ; I wept and prayed ; I said he ought to con- 
sider my circumstances; it was really his duty to 
give me my own way ; and then I hinted that he 
could of course borrow the money. But when I 
said that, Christina, he got almost angry. He said I 
was giddy, and that it was his duty as a husband not 
to yield to my tempers and fancies yes, that was 
the word he used, I believe. Very well, I thought, 
'but saved your life must be'; and then I found a 
way to do it. 

MRS. LINDEN. And did not your husband learn 
from your father that the money was not from 
him ! 

NORA. No ; never. Father died within those 
few days. I meant to have let him into my secret 
and begged him to tell nothing. But as he was so 
ill ... unhappily it was not necessary. 

MRS. LINDEN. And have you never since then 
taken your husband into your confidence ? 

NORA. Dear me ! What can you be thinking of ? 


Tell him, when he is so strict on the point of not bor- 
rowing ? And added to that for Torvald, with his 
man's self-reliance, to know that he owed anything 
to me would be painful and humiliating to the last 
degree. It would entirely change the relation be- 
tween us ; our beautiful, happy home would never 
again be what it is now. 

MRS. LIXDEN. Will you never tell him ? 

NORA (thoughtfully, half -smiling}. Yes, later on 
perhaps, after many years, when I have ceased to be 
so pretty as I am now. You mustn't laugh at me. 
Of course I mean when Torvald is not so fond of me 
as he is now ; when he no longer gets any amusement 
out of seeing me skipping about, and dressing up 
and acting. Then it might be rather a good plan to 
have something in the background. (Breaking off.) 
What nonsense ? That time will never come. Now, 
what do you say to my grand secret, Christina ? Am 
I not of some real use ? Moreover, you will believe 
me when I say, the affair gave me much anxiety. It 
was really not easy for me to meet my engagements 
punctually. You must know Christina, that in the 
world of business there is something that is called 
paying off, and quarterly interest, and they are 
always so terribly hard to tide over. That compelled 
me to pinch a little, here and there, wherever I could- 
I could not lay anything aside out of the housekeep- 
ing money, for of course Torvald had to live welL 
Nor could I let the children go about badly dressed. 
All I received for that purpose I had to expend on 
it. The dear, darling children ! 


MRS. LINDEN. And so your own personal ex- 
penses had to be restricted ? Poor Nora ! 

NORA. Yes, naturally. It was the first thing I 
thought of. Whenever Torvald gave me money for 
clothes and similar things, I never used more than 
half of it ; I always bought the simplest and cheap- 
est materials. It is most fortunate that everything 
suits me so well; so Torvald never noticed anything 
wrong about my dress. But it was often very hard, 
Christina dear. For it really is very nice to be 
beautifully dressed. Now, isn't it ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Indeed it is. 

NORA. Well, and besides that, I had other sources 
of income. Last winter, for instance, I was so lucky 
as to get a heap of copying work to do. Then I 
used to shut myself up every evening and write far 
on into the night. Oh, sometimes I was so tired, so 
dreadfully tired. And yet it was amusing to work 
in that way and earn money, I almost felt as if I 
were a man. 

MRS. LINDEN. But how much have you been able 
to pay off from this debt ? 

NORA. Well, now, that I can't precisely say. In 
business like this, you see, it is very hard to keep 
exact accounts. I only know that I paid everything 
back that I could scrape together. Sometimes I 
really didn't know what to do next (smiles). Then 
I used to sit down here and imagine that a very rich 
old gentleman was in love with me. 

MRS. LINDEN. What ! Which gentlemen ? 

NORA. Oh ! a mere story that he was now dead, 


and that when his will was opened, there stood in 
large letters : " Pay over at once everything of which 
I die possessed to that charming person, Mrs. Nora 
Helmer . . ." 

MRS. LINDEN. But, dear Nora, what gentleman 
was it ? 

NORA. Dear, dear, can't you understand ? The 
old gentleman never existed : it was only what I 
used to sit down and think and dream, when I posi- 
tively had no notion where I could get any money 
from. But let us leave him alone the tiresome old 
creature may stay wherever he is for aught I care ; 
I don't trouble my head about him, or his will ; for 
now I am freed from all further anxiety (springing 
up]. Oh, Christina, the thought of it does one good. 
Free from cares ! Free, quite free. To be able to 
play and romp about with the children ; to have 
things tasteful and refined and comfortable in the 
house, exactly as Torvald likes it all to be ! And 
then the spring will soon return with the glorious 
blue sky. Perhaps then we shall be able to have a 
short outing. Oh ! perhaps I shall get a peep of the 
sea again. Oh, yes ! indeed it is glorious to live and 
be happy. (The hall-door bell rings.) 

MRS. LINDEN (rising). There is a ring. Perhaps 
I had better be going. 

NORA. No ; do stay. I am certain nobody will 
come in here. It is sure to be somebody to see Tor- 



ELLEN (in the door to the hall). If you please, 
ma'am, there is a gentleman who wishes to speak to 
Mr. Helmer. 

NORA. The Bank Manager, you mean. 

ELLEN. Yes, ma'am, if you please, ma'am ; but I 
didn't know, as the doctor is with him . . . 

NORA. Where is the gentleman ? 

KROGSTAD (in the door-way to the hall}. It is I, 
Mrs. Helmer. (ELLEN goes; MRS. LINDEN is con- 
fused, recovers herself, and turns away to the win- 

NORA (goes a step toward him, excited, half aloud). 
You ? What does this mean ? What do you want 
to speak with my husband about ? 

KROGSTAD. Bank business to a certain extent. 
I hold a small post in the Joint Stock Bank, and your 
husband is now to be our chief, I hear. 

NORA. So you wish to speak about . . . ? 

KROGSTAD. Only about tiresome business, Mrs. 
Helmer ; nothing in the world else. 

NORA. Then will you be so kind as to take a 
seat in his office over there ? (KROGSTAD goes. She 
bows indifferently while she closes the door into the 
hall. Then she walks to the fire-place and looks to 
the fire.} 



MRS. LINDEN. Nora, who was that man ? 

NORA. A Mr. Krogstad. He used to be in the law. 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; he was. 

NORA. Do you know the man ? 

MRS. LINDEN. I used to know him many years 
ago. He was in our town a long time as govern- 
ment lawyer. 

NORA. Yes ; that he is. 

MRS. LINDEN. How altered he is. 

NORA. He was very unhappily married. 

MRS. LINDEN. And is he now a widower ? 

NORA. With a whole troop of children. There ! 
now it's burning properly (she puts the poker down and 
pushes the rocking-chair a little aside). 

MRS. LINDEN. He takes up all sorts of business, 
people say. 

NORA. Does he ? I dare say. I don't know. 
. . . But don't let us think of business it is so tire- 



RANK (still in the door-way, speaking over his shoul- 
der). No, no ; I won't disturb you. I'll just go and 
chat to your wife for a little while (shuts the door and 
sees MRS. LINDEN). Oh, I beg your pardon. I am 
in the way here too. 


NORA. No, not in the least {introduces them). 
Doctor Rank Mrs. Linden. 

RANK. Oh, indeed, that is a name often heard 
in this house. I think I just passed you on the stairs 
as we entered. 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; I go so very slowly. I can't 
bear much going up-stairs. 

RANK. Oh, I see ; some slight accident. 

MRS. LINDEN. It is really due to overfatigue. 

RANK. No worse than that ? Ah ! then you have 
come to town to find some little recreation during the 
Christmas holiday-time. 

MRS. LINDEN. I have come here to look for 

RANK. May I ask if that is an approved remedy 
for overfatigue ? 

MRS. LINDEN. One must live, Doctor Rank. 

RANK. Yes, the general view of the matter ap- 
pears to be that it is necessary. 

NORA. Come, Doctor Rank, you yourself want 
to live. 

RANK. To be sure I do. However miserable I 
am, I should like to drag on as long as possible. 
And my patients all cherish the same wish. It is 
just the same with people who are morally rotten. 
At this very moment Helmer has got talking to him 
precisely such a moral hospital-inmate as I mean. 

MRS. LINDEN (catching her breath}. Ah ! 

NORA. Whom do you mean ? 

RANK. Oh, it's a fellow called Krogstad, a lawyer, 
a man you know nothing whatever about rotten to 


the very core of his character. But even he began 
the conversation, as though he were going to say 
something very important, by saying he must live. 

NORA. Indeed ? Then what did he want to talk 
to Torvald about ? 

RANK. I really don't know that ; I only gathered 
that it had something to do with the Joint Stock 

NORA. I didn't know that Krog that this Mr. 
Krogstad had anything to do with the Bank. 

RANK. He has some sort of post there. (To 
MRS. LIXDEN.) I don't know whether in your part 
of the country too there are to be found the sort of 
men who haunt the place only to scent out moral 
rottenness, and thus get some advantageous post 
or another. The healthy have no chance against 

MRS. LINDEN. Well, after all it is better to open 
the door to the sick and get them safe in. 

RANK (shrugging his shoulders). Yes, so people 
say. And it is that very consideration which turns 
society into a hospital. (NORA, deep in her own 
thoughts, breaks into half-choked laughter and claps 
her hands.) 

RANK. What are you laughing about ? Do you 
know what society is ? 

NORA. What do I care about stupid ' society ' ? 
I was laughing over something quite different, some- 
thing awfully funny. Tell me, Doctor Rank, are all 
the people employed at the Bank now dependent on 


RANK. Is that what strikes you as so awfully 
funny ? 

NORA (smiles and hums). Leave me alone, leave 
me alone (walks about the room). Yes, to think that 
we that Torvald has now so much influence over 
so many people really does give me enormous satis- 
faction (takes the box from her pocket). Doctor, will 
you have a sweetmeat ? 

RANK. Oh, dear, dear. Sweetmeats ! I thought 
they were contraband here. 

NORA. Yes ; . . . but Christina brought me 

MRS. LINDEN. What did you say, dear ? I ? 

NORA. Oh, well, dear me ! You needn't be so 
frightened. You couldn't possibly know that Tor- 
vald has forbidden them. The fact is, he is afraid 
I might spoil my teeth. But, oh, bother, just for 
once. It won't hurt, will it, Doctor Rank ? (Puts, 
a sweetmeat into his mouth.} And you too, Christina. 
And I will have one at the same time only a tiny 
one, or at most two (walks about again). Yes, I 
really am now in a state of extraordinary happiness. 
There is only one thing in the world that I should 
really like. 

RANK. Well, and what's that ? 

NORA. There's something that I should so like 
to say, but for Torvald to hear it. 

RANK. Then why don't you say it to him ? 

NORA. Because I daren't, for it sounds so ugly. 


RANK. In that case I would not advise you to say 


it. But you might say it to us, at any rate . . . 
Pluck up your courage. What is it that you would 
like to say in Helmer's presence . . . ? 

NORA. I should like to shout with all my heart 
. . Oh ! dash it all. 

RANK. Are you out of your mind ? 

MRS. LINDEN. My dearest Nora ! 

RANK. Say it There he is. 

NORA (hides the sweetmeat box). Hush-sh-sh. 
(HELMER comes out of his room, hat in hand, with hit 
overcoat on his arm.) 


NORA (going toward him). Well, Torvald dear, 
and have you got rid of him ? 

HELMER. Yes : he's gone at last. 

NORA. May I introduce you ? this is Christina, 
who has come to town. 

HELMER. Christina? Pardon me, but I don't 
know . . . 

NORA. Mrs. Linden, Torvald dear Christina 

HELMER (to MRS. LINDEN). Ah, indeed ! You 
are an early friend of my wife's, I dare say. 

MRS, LINDEN. Yes ; we knew each other in old 

NORA. And now only fancy ! She has taken 
this long journey in order to speak to you. 

HELMER. To speak to me ! 


MRS. LINDEN. Well, not actually . . . 

NORA. The fact is, Christina is extraordinarily 
clever in counting-house work to begin with, and 
then she has such a great wish to work under a 
really able man, in order to learn even more than 
she knows already. 

HELMER (to MRS. LINDEN). Very sensible in- 

NORA. And when she heard you were made 
Bank Manager, you see the " Telegraph " has an- 
nounced it to all the world she started off and came 
here as fast as she could ; and, Torvald dear, for my 
sake you can do something for Christina. Now 
can't you ? 

HELMER. It might not be impossible. I con- 
clude you are a widow ? 


HELMER. And have already had some experi- 
ence in office-work ? 

MRS. LINDEN. A good deal. 

HELMER. Well, then, it is highly probable I can 
find a niche for you. 

NORA (clapping her hands). There now ! there 

HELMER. You have just come at a lucky moment, 
Mrs. Linden. 

MRS. LINDEN. Oh ! how can I thank you enough ? 

HELMER (smiling}. There is no occasion to (puts 
his overcoat on). But to-day you must excuse me. 

RANK. Wait ; I'll go with you (fetches his fur- 
lined coat from the hall and warms it at the fire). 


NORA. Don't be out long, dear Torvald. 

HELMER. Only an hour ; not longer. 

NORA. Are you going also, Christina? 

MRS. LINDEN {putting on her walking things), 
Yes ; I must be off now and look for lodgings. 

HELMER. Then perhaps we can go together. 

NORA (helping her). How vexatious that we 
should have no spare room to offer you ; but it 
really is quite impossible. 

MRS. LINDEN. What are you dreaming about ? 
Good-by, dear Nora, and thank you for all your 

NORA. Good-by^ for a little while. Of course 
you'll come back this evening. And you too, Doc- 
tor Rank. What ? if you feel well enough ? Of 
course you will. Only be sure you wrap up warmly. 
( They go out talking into the hall. Outside on the door- 
steps are heard children's voices.} There they are! 
there they are ! (She runs to the door and opens it.} 


NORA. Come in ! come in ! (bends down and kisses 
the children} Oh ! my sweet darling ... Do you 
see them, Christina ? Aren't they darlings ? 

RANK. Don't let's stand here in the draught talk- 
ing folly. 

HELMER. Come, Mrs. Linden ; people who are 
not mothers won't be able to stand it if they stay 
here any longer. (RANK, HELMER, and MRS. LIN- 


DEN go. MARY ANN enters the room with the chil- 
dren, NORA also, and shuts the door.) 


NORA. How fresh and merry you look! And 
what rosy cheeks you have ! like apples and roses. 
( The children talk all at once to her during the follow- 
ing.} And so you have been having great fun? 
That is splendid. Oh, really ! you have been giving 
Emmy and Bob a slide, both at once. Dear me ! 
you are quite a man, Ivar. Oh, give her to me a 
little, Mary Ann. My sweetheart! (Takes the 
smallest from the nurse and dances it up and down.) 
Yes, yes, mother will dance with Bob too. What ! 
did you have a game of snow-balls as well ? Oh ! I 
ought to have been there. No, leave them, Mary 
Ann ; I will take their things off. No, no, let me 
do it ; it is so amusing. Go to the nursery for a 
while ; you look so frozen. You'll find some hot 
coffee on the stove. ( The nurse goes to the room on 
the left. Nora takes off the children's things and throws 
them down anywhere, while she lets the children talk to 
each other and to her.) Really ! Then there was a 
big dog there who ran after you all the way home ? 
But I'm sure he didn't bite you ? No ; dogs don't 
bite dear dolly little children. Don't peep into 
those parcels, Ivar. You want to know what that 
is ? Yes, you are the only people who shall know. 
Oh, no, no, that is not pretty. What ! must we have 


a game ? What shall it be, then? Hide and seek ? 
Yes, let us play hide and seek. Bob shall hide first. 
Am I to ? Very well ; I will hide first. (She and 
the children play, with laughing and shotting, in the 
room and the adjacent one to the right. At last Nora 
hides under the table ; the children come rushing in to 
look for her, but can not find her, hear her half -choked 
laughter, rush to the table, lift up the cover, and see her. 
Stormy shouts. She creeps out, as though to frighten 
them. Fresh shouts. Meanu'hile there has been a 
knock at the hall door. No one has heard it. Now 
the door is half opened, and KROGSTAD is seen. He 
waits a little j the game is renewed. 



KROGSTAD. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer 

NORA (with a suppressed cry turns round and half 
jumps up). Oh ! What do you want ? 

KROGSTAD. Excuse me; the inner hall door 
was ajar somebody must have forgotten to shut 

NORA (standing up). My husband is not at home, 
Mr. Krogstad. 

KROGSTAD. I know it 

NORA. Indeed ! Then what do you want here ? 

KROGSTAD. To say a few words to you. 

NORA. Tome? (To the children softly.) Go in 
to the nursery to Mary Ann. What, dear ? No, the 
strange man won't hurt Mamma. When he is gone 


we will go on playing. (She leads the children into the 
left-hand room and shuts the door behind them.) 

NORA (uneasy, in suspense). It was with me you 
wished to speak ? 


NORA. To-day ? But it is not yet the first 

KROGSTAD. No ; to-day is Christmas Eve. It 
will depend upon yourself what kind of Christmas 
happiness is granted you. 

NORA. What do you really want of me ? I cer- 
tainly can't to-day 

KROGSTAD. We won't discuss that beforehand. 
It is about another matter. You have a minute to 
spare ? 

NORA. Oh, yes, certainly ; I have that, although 

KROGSTAD. Good. I was sitting over there in 
the Restaurant, and I saw your husband cross the 

NORA. Yes ; well ? 

KROGSTAD. With a lady. 

NORA. And what then ? 

KROGSTAD. May I ask if the lady was a certain 
Mrs. Linden ? 

NORA. Yes. 

KROGSTAD. Who has just arrived ? 

NORA. Yes. This morning. 

KROGSTAD. I suppose she is an intimate friend 
of yours. 

NORA. Certainly she is. But I don't under- 
stand . . . 

KROGSTAD. I used to know her too. 


NORA. I know you did. 

KROGSTAD. Really ? Then you know all about 
it. I thought as much. Now, may I ask whether 
Mrs. Linden is to have some post in the Bank ? 

NORA. How can you allow yourself to catechise 
me in this way you, a subordinate official of my 
husband's? But since you have asked, you shall 
know. Yes, Mrs. Linden is to be employed at the 
Bank. And it is I who took her by the hand, Mr. 
Krogstad. Now you know. 

KROGSTAD. Then my guess was right. 

NORA (walking up and down). Oh \ I should im- 
agine one has a little wee bit of influence. It doesn't 
follow that because one is only a woman that. . . . 
When one is in a dependent position, Mr. Krogstad, 
one ought to take the greatest care not to offend 
anybody who hm 

KROGSTAD. Who has influence ? 

NORA. Yes ; just so. 

KROGSTAD (taking another tone). Mrs. Helmer, 
will you have the kindness to employ your influence 
in my favor ? 

NORA. What ? How do you mean ? 

KROGSTAD. Will you be so obliging as to take 
care that I retain my dependent position at the 

NORA. What is all this about ? Who wants to 
take your post away, then ? 

KROGSTAD. Oh, you needn't pretend ignorance 
toward me. I can very well comprehend that it can 
not be pleasant for your friend to meet me ; and I 


can also comprehend now whom I have to thank 
for my dismissal. 

NORA. But I assure you . . . 

KROGSTAD. Oh, yes ; make no bones about it ; 
there is yet time, and I advise you to use your influ- 
ence to prevent it. 

NORA. But, Mr. Krogstad, I have absolutely no 

KROGSTAD. None? It seems to me you were 
saying just now yourself 

NORA. Of course you were not to understand 
me in that sense. I ! How can you think I should 
have such influence as that over my husband ? 

KROGSTAD. Oh, I've known your husband since 
our College days. I don't think he is firmer than 
other husbands are. 

NORA. If you talk disparagingly of my husband 
I must request you to go. 

KROGSTAD. You are very courageous, my dear 

NORA. I am no longer afraid of you. When 
New Year's Day is over I shall soon be out of the 
whole difficulty. 

KROGSTAD (controlling himself more). Now just 
listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. If needs be, I shall fight 
as though it were for my life in order to keep my 
small post in the Bank. 

NORA. Yes ; it looks as if you would. 

KROGSTAD. It is not only on account of the pay ; 
that is the part of it that least matters to me. But it 
is something else. Well, I suppose I had better 


make a clean breast of it. Look here ; it's this. Of 
course you know just what everybody else knows 
that many years ago I once got into trouble. 

NORA. I think I heard something of the sort. 

KROGSTAD. The matter never came into Court ; 
but from that moment all paths were, as it were, bar- 
ricaded to me. Then I threw myself into the kind 
of business which you know about I was obliged 
to snatch at something, and I may say this much : I 
wasn't the worst of the men in that line. But now I 
ought to clear out of all business of that sort. My 
sons are growing up ; on their account I must try 
to win back as much, respectability as I possibly can. 
In that direction this post at the Bank was the first 
step. And now your husband wants to push me 
back into the mire. 

NORA. But I do assure you, Mr. Krogstad, it is 
really not in my power to help you. 

KROGSTAD. Because you will not ; but I have 
the means of compelling you to help me. 

NORA. You don't intend to tell my husband that 
I owe you money ? 

KROGSTAD. Hm ! Supposing I were to tell him ? 

NORA. It would be scandalous of you (with op- 
pressed tears). This secret, which is my joy and my 
pride, he shall not learn in such a vulgar, blunt way 
and from you too. You want to put me to the 
most terrible annoyance. 

KROGSTAD. Only annoyance ? 

NORA (hotly). But just do it ; the consequences 
will be worse for you than anybody else ; for then 


my husband will see clearly what a bad man you 
are, and then you certainly will not keep your post. 

KROGSTAD. I asked if it were only domestic un- 
pleasantness that you were afraid of ? 

NORA. If my husband gets to know about it he 
will, of course, pay the rest without delay ; and then 
we have nothing more to do with you. 

KROGSTAD. (stepping a pace nearer). Listen, Mrs. 
Helmer : either you have rather a weak memory, or 
you don't know much about business. In that case 
I must get you to go more deeply into the matter. 

NORA. How will you do that ? 

KROGSTAD. When your husband was ill, you 
came to me to borrow 300 of me. 

NORA. I knew nobody else. 

KROGSTAD. I promised to find you the money. 

NORA. And you did find it. 

KROGSTAD. I promised to find you the money 
under certain conditions. You were just then so 
excited about your husband's illness, and so anxious 
to get hold of the money for your journey, that you 
probably did not think twice about the difficulties it 
involved. It is therefore not superfluous for me to 
remind you of them. Now, I promised to find you 
the money in exchange for an acknowledgement 
which I drew up. 

NORA. Yes, and I signed it. 

KROGSTAD. Very well. But then I added a few 
lines whereby your father became security for the 
debt. Your father was to sign this. 

NORA. Was to? He did sign. 


KROGSTAD. I had left the date blank ; that is to 
say, your father was to insert the date on which he 
signed the document. Do you recollect this, Mrs. 
Helmer ? 

NORA. Yes, I believe . . . 

KROGSTAD. Thereupon I gave you the piece of 
paper that you might send it to your father. Is not 
that so ? 

NORA. Yes. 

KROGSTAD. And of course you did so without 
delay ; for within five or six days you brought me 
back the acknowledgment duly signed by your fa- 
ther. Then you received from me the sum prom- 

NORA. Well, to be sure ; have I not paid it back 
punctually ? 

KROGSTAD. Very fairly ; yes. But let us return 
to the matter we were speaking of. You were in 
great trouble at the time, Mrs. Helmer? 

NORA. I was indeed. 

KROGSTAD. Your father, too, was very seriously 
ill, I believe. 

NORA. He was on his death-bed. 

KROGSTAD. And died soon after ? 

NORA. Yes. 

KROGSTAD. Now, just tell me, Mrs. Helmer, 
whether by any chance you happen to recollect 
which day he died which day of the month, I 

NORA. Father died on the twenty-ninth of Ser> 
tember c 


KROGSTAD. Quite correct ; I have made inqui- 
ries about it. That is why I can not explain a re- 
markable circumstance (draws from his pocket a piece 
of writing). 

NORA. A remarkable circumstance ? I do not 
know. . . . 

KROGSTAD. The remarkable circumstance, dear 
Mrs. Helmer, is, that your father signed this acknowl- 
edgment three days after his death. 

NORA. What ? I don't understand. 

KROGSTAD. Your father died on the twenty-ninth 
of September. But just look here. Here your fa- 
ther has dated his signature October the 2d. Is not 
that remarkable, Mrs. Helmer ? (NORA is silent.') 
Can you explain that to me ? (NORA continues silent?) 
It is also striking that the words " October the 2d " 
and the year are not in your father's handwriting, 
but in one which I believe I know. Now this may 
be explained by supposing that your father forgot to 
date it, and that somebody added the date by guess 
work before the fact of his death was known. There 
is nothing improper in that proceeding. But it is 
the signature of his name that my question relates 
to. And is it genuine, Mrs. Helmer ? Was it really 
your father who with his own hand set his na'me 

NORA (after a short silence throws her head back 
and looks defiantly at him). No ; it is I who wrote 
papa's name there. 

KROGSTAD. And are you aware, moreover, that 
that is a dangerous admission ? 


NORA. Why ? You will soon get your money. 

KROGSTAD. May I be permitted one more ques- 
tion : Why did you not send the document to your 

NORA. It was impossible. Father was then dan- 
gerously ill. If I had asked him for his signature I 
should also have had to tell him what I wanted the 
money for. But in his condition I really could not 
tell him that my husband's life hung by a thread. 
It was quite impossible. 

KROGSTAD. Then it would have been better for 
you to give up the journey abroad. 

NORA. That was impossible too. My husband's 
life depended on that journey. I could not give 
it up. 

KROGSTAD. But did you not consider, then, that 
it was a fraud on me ? 

NORA. I could not take any heed of that. I did 
not care in the least about you. I could not endure 
you on account of all the hard-hearted difficulties 
you made, although you knew how ill my husband 

KROGSTAD. Mrs. Helmer, you have evidently no 
clear idea what you have been really guilty of. But 
1 can assure you it was nothing different from this, 
nor worse than this, that I once did, and that de- 
stroyed my entire position in society. 

NORA. You ? Do you want to make me believe 
that you would have dared to do a courageous act 
in order to save your wife's life ? 

KROGSTAD. The laws inquire little into motives. 


NORA. Then we must have very bad laws. 

KROGSTAD. Bad, or not bad if I lay this docu- 
ment before a court of law you will be judged ac 
cording to the laws. 

NORA. That I do not believe. Do you mean to 
tell me that a daughter has not the right to spare her 
old father, on his death-bed, care and worry ? Do 
you mean to say that a wife has not the right to save 
her husband's life? I don't know the law precisely, 
but I am convinced that somewhere or another the law 
must contain leave for me to have done such things. 
And you don't know it you, a lawyer. You must 
be a bad lawyer, Mr. Krogstad. 

KROGSTAD. I dare say. But business such 
business as ours here I do understand ; you believe 
that? Very well. Now, do as you please. But 
this I do say to you : that if I am turned out of 
society a second time, you shall keep me company. 
(He bows and goes out through the hall.) 


NORA (stands a while thinking, then she throws her 
head back.) Never ! To try to frighten me ! I am 
not so simple as that. (Begins folding the children's 
clothes ; pauses.) But ... no ; but that is quite im- 
possible. I did it from love. 

THE CHILDREN (in the left door). Mamma, the 
strange man is gone now. 

NORA. Yes, yes ; I know. But don't tell any 


one about the strange man. Do you hear ? Not 
even papa. 

THE CHILDREN. No, mamma ; but now will you 
play with us again ? 

NORA. No, no ; not now. 

THE CHILDREN. Oh, do, mamma. You did 

NORA. Yes ; but I can't just now. Run to the 
nursery ; I have so much to do. Run along, run along, 
my dear, good children. (She compels them gently to 
go into the inner room, and shuts the door behind them.) 


NORA (throws herself on the sofa, takes a piece of 
embroidery and does a few stitches, but soon pauses.) 
No (throws the embroidery down, stands up, goes to the 
door toward the hall, and calls out). Ellen, bring in 
the Christmas tree. (Goes to the left-hand table and 
opens the drawer ; stands again, thoughtful). No ; 
but that is quite impossible. 

ELLEN (with the Christmas tree). Where shall I 
stand it, if you please, ma'am ? 

NORA. There, in the middle of the room. 

ELLEN. Shall I bring in anything else ? 

NORA. No, thank you ; I have what I want. 
(ELLEN, who has put down the tree, goes out again. 
NORA (busy dressing the tree). There must be a candle 
here, and some flowers there. The horrid man ! 
Nonsense, nonsense ; there is nothing wrong in it 


. . . The Christmas tree shall be beautiful. I will 
do everything that gives you pleasure, Torvald ; I 
will sing, and dance, and . . . 


NORA. HELMER {from out of doors, with a bundle of 
documents under his arm). 

NORA. Oh ! are you back already ? 

HELMER. Yes. Has anybody been here ? 

NORA. Here? No. 

HELMER. Curious ! I saw Krogstad come out of 
the house. 

NORA. Did you ? Oh, yes, it is true he was here 
for a minute. 

HELMER. Nora, I can see from your manner he 
has been here, and asked you to put in a good word 
for him. 

NORA. Yes. 

HELMER. And you were to do it as of your own 
accord ? You were to say nothing to me of his hav- 
ing been here ? 

NORA. Yes, Torvald ; but 

HELMER. Nora, Nora ! and you could bring 
yourself to do that ? to allow yourself to be drawn 
into talk with such a man, and give him a promise. 
And then tell me an untruth about it ? 

NORA. An untruth ? 

HELMER. Didn't you say nobody had been here ? 
(Threatens with his finger.) My lark must never do 
that again. A little singing bird must never sing 


false notes (puts his arm round her). That's true, 
isn't it ? Yes, I knew it (lets her go). And now 
we'll say no more about it (sits down before the fire). 
Oh, how comfortable and quiet it is here {glances 
into his documents). 

NORA (busy with the tree, after a short silence). 


NORA. I am so excessively delighted over the 
Steinbergs' costume ball the day after to-morrow. 

HELMER. And I am so excessively curious to see 
what you will surprise me with. 

NORA. Oh ! that's the tiresome part of it. 

HELMER. How do you mean ? 

NORA. I can't find anything to suit me. Every- 
thing seems so silly and meaningless. 

HELMER. Has my little Nora arrived at that opin* 

NORA (behind his chair with her arms on the back). 
Are you very busy, Torvald ? 


NORA. What sort of papers are those ? 

HELMER. Papers concerning the Bank. 

NORA. Already ? 

HELMER. I got the retiring authorities to give 
me full power beforehand to make the necessary 
changes in the staff and method of working. This 
is what I must spend my Christmas week in arrang- 
ing. By New Year's Day I will have everything in 

NORA. Then this is why that poor Krogstad . . . 


HELMER. H m. . . . 

NORA, (leaning further over the chair, strokes hh 
hair). If your work were not so pressing I should 
ask you a great, great favor, Torvald. 

HELMER. Let's hear it. What can it be ? 

NORA. Nobody has such refined taste as you 
have. Now I should so love to look well at the cos- 
tume ball. Torvald, dear, couldn't you take me in 
hand and settle what character 1 am to appear in, 
and how my costume ought to be arranged ? 

HELMER. Is that obstinate little head of yours 
puzzled at last, and looking about for somebody to 
save it from destruction ? 

NORA. Yes, Torvald. Without you I am utterly 

HELMER. Well, well ; I'll think it over ; we will 
soon hit upon something together. 

NORA. Oh, how kind and good that is of you 
(gets to the tree again ; pause]. How pretty the red 
flowers look. But, by the by, was the . . . thing 
which Krogstad got into trouble about years ago 
really so bad ? 

HELMER. Forged a name, that's all. Have you 
any notion what that means ? 

NORA. Mustn't he have done it from need ? 

HELMER. Yes, or as so many others do it, from 
heedlessness. I am not so heartless as to judge any- 
body absolutely from such a transaction alone. 

NORA. No; that's just what I thought you would 
say, Torvald. 

HELMER. Many a man can lift himself up again 


morally if he openly recognizes his offense and un- 
dergoes its punishment. 

NORA. Punishment ? 

HELMER. But Krogstad didn't set about it in 
that way ; he tried to work his way out of it by 
dodges and tricks, and by that very means he has 
morally ruined himself. 

NORA. Do you think that it . . . ? 

HELMER. Only just think how a man so conscious 
of guilt as that must go about even-where lying, and 
a hypocrite, and an actor ; how he must wear a mask 
toward his neighbor, and even his wife and children, 
his own children. That's the worst, Nora? 

NORA. Why? 

HELMER. Because such a misty atmosphere of 
lying brings contagion into the whole family. Every 
breath the children draw contains some germ of evil 

NORA (closer behind him). Are you quite sure ? 

HELMER. As a lawyer, darling child, I have re- 
marked that many a time. Nearly all men who go 
to ruin early have had untruthful mothers. 

NORA. Why should it be mothers ? 

HELMER. In most cases it comes from the moth- 
er; but the father naturally works in the same di- 
rection. Every lawyer has reason to know that 
And Krogstad has actually been poisoning his own 
children for years past by lying and acting a part ; 
that is precisely why I call him morally lost. 
(Stretches out his hands to her.) This is the reason 
why my dear little Nora must not plead on his be- 
half. Shake hands upon it. Come, come ; what's 


that ? Give me your hand. That's right. Then 
it's a bargain. I do assure you it would have been 
impossible to me to work with him. I feel bodily dis- 
comfort when I am in any proximity to such people. 

NORA (takes her hand away and goes to the other 
side of the Christmas tree). How warm it is here. 
And I have so much to do still. 

H ELMER (rises and puts his papers together). Yes, 
I must take care to get some of these papers read 
through before dinner ; and I will think over your 
costume too. And I should not be surprised if I 
were to get ready some trifle that might be hung in 
gilt paper on the Christmas tree. (Lays his hand 
upon her head.) My dear little lark. (He goes into 
his room and shuts the door behind him.) 



NORA (slowly, after a pause). What was it ? It 
can't be so . . . That is impossible. It must be im- 

MARY ANN (in the left door). The little ones are 
begging so prettily to come in to mamma. 

NORA. No, no ; don't let them come in to me. 
Let them stay with you, Mary Ann. 

MARY ANN. Very well, ma'am (shuts the door). 

NORA (pale with terror). I ruin my children . . . 
poison my home. (Short pause. She raises her head 
proudly.) That is not true. It is never, and can 
never be, true. 




(In the corner beside the piano stands the Christmas tree, 
stripped, shabby, and with the candles burned out. 
On the sofa Nora's walking things.) 


NORA (alone. She walks about restlessly. At last 
stands by the sofa and takes her cloak. After a min- 
ute's reflection she lets it fall again on to the sofa). 
There's somebody coming. (Goes to the door, listens.} 
No ; nobody. Nobody is likely to come to-day, 
Christmas Day, nor to-morrow either. But per- 
haps . . . (opens the door and peeps out}. No. Noth- 
ing in the letter-box ; it's quite empty. (Comes to 
the front of the stage.} Stuff and nonsense ! Of 
course he will do nothing serious in it. Nothing of 
the kind can possibly happen. It is impossible. 
Why, I have three little children. 


(MARY ANN coming out of the left room with a large 
paper card-board box.} 

MARY ANN. At last I've found the box with the 
masquerade dress. 

NORA. Thanks ; put it down on the table there. 

MARY ANN (does so}. But it is still very much 
out of order, ma'am. 

NORA. Oh, I wish I could tear it into a hundred 
thousand pieces. 


MARY ANN. Good gracious me, ma'am ! Why, it 
can be easily put to rights ; it only wants a little 

NORA. Yes ; I will go to Mrs. Linden and get 
her to help me. 

MARY ANN. What! out again, ma'am? In this 
dreadful weather ? You'll catch your death of cold, 
ma'am, and be quite ill. 

NORA. Oh, that's not the worst thing that could 
happen. What are the children doing? 

MARY ANN. They're playing with their Christmas 
presents, dear little things ; but . . . 

NORA. Do they often ask aft&r me ? 

MARY ANN. Well, you see, ma'am, they have been 
so used to having their mamma always with them. 

NORA. Yes ; but, Mary Ann, henceforth I can't 
have them so much with me as hitherto. 

MARY ANN. Well, ma'am, little children get used 
to anything. 

NORA. Do you think they do ? Do you believe 
that they would forget their mother if she went quite 
away ? 

MARY ANN. Gracious me, ma'am ; quite away ! 

NORA. Tell me, Mary Ann I've so often won- 
dered about it how could you bring yourself to give 
your child up to strangers ? 

MARY ANN. But I was obliged to, if I wanted to 
come as nurse to my little Miss Nora, ma'am. 

NORA. Yes ; but that you could want to. 

MARY ANN. When I could get such a good 
place, ma'am ? A poor girl who's been in trouble 


could only be very glad to come ; for that wicked 
man did nothing for me. 

NORA. But of course your daughter has forgotten 

MARY ANN. Oh no, ma'am, not in the least. She 
wrote to me both when she was confirmed and when 
she got married. 

NORA (embracing her). Dear Mary Ann, you were 
a good mother to me when I was a little girl. 

MARY ANN. My poor little Miss Nora had no 
mother but me. 

NORA. And if my little children had nobody else 
I am sure you would . . . Nonsense, nonsense (opens 
the box). Go to them in the nursery. Now I must 
. . . To-morrow you shall see how beautifully this 
dress suits me. 

MARY ANN. Yes, ma'am, I'm sure there will be 
nobody so beautiful at the whole ball as my Miss 
Nora. {She goes into the left room.} 

NORA (begins taking the costume out of the box, 
then soon throws it doum again). Oh, if I could go 
away. If only nobody would come. If only noth- 
ing would happen here at home meanwhile. Rub- 
bish ! nobody will come. Only not to think . . . 
Stroke one's muff smooth. Beautiful gloves, beauti- 
ful gloves . . . Away with the whole thing, away 
with it ... One, two, three, four, five, six. ( With 
a cry.) Oh ! there comes the . . . (goes toward the 
door, but stands undecided). 



NORA. MRS. LINDEN (comes from the hall, where she 
has taken off her things). 

NORA. Oh, it is you, Christina. Is nobody else 
there ? How delightful of you to come. 

MRS. LINDEN. I hear you have called- at my lodg- 
ings to ask for me. 

NORA. Yes, I was just passing. There is some- 
thing I wanted you to help me with. Let us sit here 
on the sofa. Look here. To-morrow evening there 
is a costume ball at Consul Steinberg's overhead, and 
now Torvald wants me to appear as a Neapolitan 
fisher-girl, and dance the tarantella, because I did 
learn it in Capri. 

MRS. LINDEN. I see, dear. Then you are to give 
quite a representation of the character ? 

NORA. Yes ; Torvald wishes me to. Look ! here 
is the costume. Torvald had it made for me in Italy ; 
but now it is all so torn, and I hardly know . . . 

MRS. LINDEN. Oh ! we'll soon set that to rights 
for you. It is only the trimming that has got loose 
here and there. Have you a needle and thread? 
Ah ! there's the very thing we want. 

NORA. How kind it is of you. 

MRS. LINDEN (sewing). If you're going to dress 
up to-morrow, Nora, I tell you what I shall come 
in for a moment in order to see you in all your glory. 
But I have quite forgotten to thank you for the 
pleasant evening you gave me yesterday. 

NORA (looks up and walks across the room). Ah ! 


yesterday it didn't seem to me so pleasant here as it 
generally is. ... You should have come to town 
sooner, Christina. Yes, Torvald knows how to make 
our home beautiful and pleasant. 

MRS. LINDEN. And so do you, I think ; or you 
would not be your father's daughter. But tell me 
is Doctor Rank always so depressed as he was yester- 
day evening ? 

NORA. It was particularly striking yesterday. He 
really has a terrible illness that accounts for it. He 
has spinal consumption, poor wretch. You see his 
father was an awful man who did all sorts of wrong 
things, and so of course his son has been ill from his 

MRS. LINDEN (lets her sewing fall into her lap). 
But, my dearest, loveliest Nora, how do you learn 
such things ? 

NORA {walking). Oh ! when one has three children 
one is sometimes called upon by ... women who 
have a little medical knowledge, and happen to chat 
about one thing or another. 

MRS. LINDEN (goes on sewing ; short pause). Does 
Doctor Rank come here every day ? 

NORA. He never misses. He has been Torvald's 
friend from boyhood, you know, and is a good friend 
of mine too. Doctor Rank is quite one of the family. 

MRS. LINDEN. But just tell me, dear : is the man 
quite honest ? I mean, doesn't he like saying flatter- 
ing things to people ? 

NORA. On the contrary. What makes you think 


MRS. LINDEN. When you introduced us yester- 
day he declared he had often heard my name in the 
house ; but then I noticed your husband had no 
notion who I was. How, then, could Doctor Rank ? 

NORA. You are right, Christina. But you see, 
dear Torvald loves me so indescribably much ; and 
so he wants to have me all to himself, as he expresses 
it. When we first married he was almost jealous if 
I did but mention one of the people I lived with at 
home, so I naturally ceased to mention them. But 
I often talk to Doctor Rank about it, for he loves to 
hear me babble on. 

MRS. LINDEN. Dear Nora, in many things you 
are still just like a child. I am somewhat older than 
you are, and have a little more experience. I will 
tell you something : you ought to put an end to the 
whole affair with this Doctor. 

NORA. What affair ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Both affairs, it seems to me. Yes- 
terday you were telling me about a rich admirer who 
was to furnish you with money. 

NORA. Yes, and who never existed, more's the 
pity. But what then ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Has Doctor Rank property ? 

NORA. Yes, he has. 

MRS. LINDEN. And nobody to provide for ? 

NORA. Nobody. But 

MRS. LINDEN. And he comes here every day? 

NORA. Yes ; I tell you he never misses. 

MRS. LINDEN. But how can he, as a gentleman, 
be so intrusive ? 


NORA. I really don't understand you. 

MRS. LINDEN. Don't pretend, Nora. Don't you 
suppose I did not guess from whom you borrowed 
the ^300. 

NORA. Are you out of your senses? You think 
that ? A friend of the family who comes here every 
day to us ! What a terrible, torturing state of things 
it would be ! 

MRS. LINDEN. Then it really is not he ? 

NORA. No ; that I do assure you. It never for 
a moment occurred to me to ask him. Besides, at 
that time he had nothing to lend ; it was later that 
he came into his property. 

MRS. LINDEN. Well, that was certainly lucky for 
you, Nora dear. 

NORA. No, really, it never would have struck 
me to ask Doctor Rank. However, I am certain 
that if I did 

MRS. LINDEN. But of course you never would . . . 

NORA. I should think not, indeed. Nor do I 
believe it will be necessary. But I am firmly con- 
vinced that if I said to Doctor Rank 

MRS. LINDEN. Behind your husband's back ? 

NORA. I must get out of the other loan ; that I 
had to manage behind his back too. I must get out 
of that. 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, yes, you were saying so yes- 
terday ; but 

NORA (walking uf and down). A man can get 
things into better order somehow than a woman 
can . 


MRS. LINDEN. Her own husband ; yes. 

NORA. Nonsense. (Stands still.) When one pays 
everything off that one owes, one gets back the ac- 
knowledgement of the debt ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Of course. 

NORA. And can tear it into a hundred thousand 
pieces and burn the nasty, horrid thing ! 

MRS. LINDEN (looks at her fixedly, lays down her 
work, and looks up slowly). Nora, you are hiding 
something from me. 

NORA. Can you see that in my manner ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Since yesterday morning some- 
thing has been happening to you. Nora, what is it ? 

NORA (going toward her). Christina. (Listens.) 
Hush. There's Torvald coming home. Here, go 
and sit with the children. Torvald can't bear to see 
dress-making. Let Mary Ann help you. 

MRS. LINDEN (gathers some of the things together). 
Very well; but I shan't go away until we have 
spoken openly to each other. {She goes away to the 
left as H ELMER enters from the hall.) 


NORA (goes to meet him). Oh! how I have been 
longing to see you, Torvald dear. 

HELMER. Was the dress-maker here ? 

NORA. No; Christina. She is helping me to get 
my costume into order. You will see I shall look 
perfectly charming. 


HELMER. Yes ; wasn't that an extremely lucky 
thought of mine ? 

NORA. Glorious ! But is it not also very beauti- 
ful of me to give in to you ? 

HELMER (takes her under the chin). Beautiful of 
you that you give in to your own husband ! Why. 
you little rogue, I know very well you didn't mean 
anything of the sort. But I won't disturb you. I 
dare say you want to be fitting on your dress. 

NORA. And I dare say you're going to work ? 

HELMER. Yes (shows her a bundle of documents). 
Look here. I was at the Bank just now (is about 
to go to his room). 

NORA. Torvald. 

HELMER (stands still ) . Yes ? 

NORA. If your little squirrel were to ask you for 
something very prettily and seriously . . . 

HELMER. Then? 

NORA. Would you do it ? 

HELMER. Naturally I should first expect to be 
told what it is. 

NORA. The little squirrel would jump about and 
perform all sorts of funny tricks if you would be 
amiable and do as you are asked. 

HELMER. Come, then ; out with it. 

NORA. The little lark would twitter round in all 
the rooms, loud and soft by turns . . . 

HELMER. Oh, there's nothing in that. She does 
all that as it is. 

NORA. I would act a fairy, and dance in the 
moonshine, Torvald 


HELMER. Nora, you can't mean what you were 
begging me about this morning ? 

NORA (coming nearer). Yes, Torvald, I do beg 
you so. 

HELMER. Have you really courage to mention 
the matter again to me ? 

NORA. Yes, yes. You must grant my request. 
You must let Krogstad keep his place at the Bank. 

HELMER. My dear Nora, I have arranged for his 
place to be given to Mrs. Linden. 

NORA. Yes, and that was very nice of you. But 
instead of Krogstad, you could dismiss some other 

HELMER. That would be incredibly absurd. Be- 
cause you heedlessly promised to put in a word 
for him, I am to ... 

NORA. Not for that reason, Torvald. It is for 
your own sake. The man is on the staff of some of 
our most scurrilous newspapers ; I have heard you 
say so myself. He can do you such infinite harm. 
I am so terribly afraid of him. 

HELMER. Oh, I understand ; it is old recollec- 
tions that are frightening you. 

NORA. Why do you say that ? 

HELMER. Of course you are thinking of your 

NORA. Yes, to be sure. Only call to mind what 
wicked men used to write about father in the papers, 
and how shamefully they calumniated him. I be- 
lieve they really would have got him dismissed if 
Government had not sent you down to look into the 


matter, and if you had not been so kindly and con- 
siderate toward him. 

HELMER. My dear Nora, between your father 
and me there is all the difference in the world. Your 
father was not, as an official, quite unimpeachable. 
But I am ; and I hope to remain so as long as I am 
at my post. 

NORA. Oh, you don't in the least comprehend 
how wicked men find out all sorts of things to say 
We could be so well off now, and live so quietly and 
happily in our peaceful home, free from any kind of 
care, you and I and the children, Torvald ! This is 
why I beg you so earnestly. 

HELMER. And it is just by your throwing your- 
self into the matter that you make it impossible for 
me to keep him. It is already known at the Bank 
that I intend to dismiss Krogstad. If it were now 
to be known that the new Bank Manager let him- 
self be talked round by his wife 

NORA. Well, then ? 

HELMER. If only the obstinate little woman can 
get her own way, of course that is all she wants. . . . 
I am to make myself the laughing-stock of all the 
clerks, and set people saying I am under outside in- 
fluence. Take my word for it, I should soon trace 
the consequences. And besides, there is one cir- 
cumstance that makes Krogstad an impossible per- 
son to have at the Bank while I am manager there. 

NORA. What circumstance? 

HELMER. In case of necessity I could perhaps 
have overlooked his moral fault. . , . 


NORA. Yes, couldn't you, Torvald ? 

HELMER. And by what I hear he must be quite 
content. But we knew each other in early youth. 
It is one of those hasty acquaintances that so often 
hamper one in later life. In fact, the whole diffi- 
culty lies in his calling me Torvald, And the tact- 
less creature makes no secret of it when other peo- 
ple are present. On the contrary, he fancies it 
justifies his taking a familiar tone with me ; and so 
he blurts out at every turn, " I say, Torvald " : I do 
assure you it causes me most painful emotion. He 
would make my position at the Bank perfectly un- 
endurable to me. 

NORA. Torvald, you are not serious in saying all 

HELMER. Not ? Why not ? 

NORA. All these are such petty considerations. 

HELMER. What are you saying ? Petty consid 
Do you consider me petty ? 

NORA. No, on the contrary, Torvald, dear ; and 
that is just why 

HELMER. It's all the same. You call my reasons 
petty ; then I must be petty too. Petty ! Very well 
then. Now we'll put an end to this once and for all. 
(Goes to the door into the hall and calls.) Ellen ! 

NORA. What do you want to do ? 

HELMER (searching among his papers]. To put an 
end to the whole affair. 



HELMER (to ELLEN). There, take the letter. Give 
it to a messenger. But see that he takes it at once. 
The address is on it. Here is the money for him. 


HELMER (putting his papers in order). There, my 
obstinate little wife. 

NORA (as though, out of her mind}. Ton-aid, what 
letter was that ? 

HELMER. Krogstad's dismissal. 

NORA. Fetch it back again, Torvald. There is 
still time. Oh, Torvald, get it back again. Do it 
for my sake for your own sake for our children's 
sake. Do you hear ? Torvald, do it. You don't 
know what that letter has the power to bring upon 
us all. 

HELMER. Too late. 

NORA. Yes, too late. 

HELMER. Dear Nora, I forgive you your anxiety, 
although it is founded upon what is wounding to me. 
Yes, that is what it really is. Or perhaps it is no 
offense to me for you to believe I should be afraid 
of the revenge of a disgraced newspaper scribbler ? 
But I forgive it you, because it is all the time a 
charming proof of your great love for me (takes her 
in his arms). It must be so, my dear, darling Nora. 


Let what will befall us. If I am called upon for it, 
I have not only courage, but the strength too, you 
know. You shall see I am powerful enough to take 
everything upon my shoulders. 

NORA (suddenly terrified}. What do you mean by 

HELMER. Everything, I say. 

NORA (decidedly). That you shall never, never do. 

HELMER. Very well ; then we will share it, Nora, 
as man and wife, just as we ought to do {strokes her). 
Are you satisfied now? Come, come, come; don't 
let me see those eyes looking like a scared dove's. 
It is all your own fancy. Now you must act the 
tarantella, and practice the tambourine. I shall go 
and sit in my other office and shut the double door, 
so that I shall hear nothing. You can make as much 
noise as ever you please (turns round in the doorway), 
and when Rank comes, just tell him where I am to 
be found. 


NORA. Then RANK. Later ELLEN. 
NORA (shaken with anxiety, stands as though rooted 
to the ground, and whispers). He had it in his power 
to do it. Yes ; he did it. He did it in spite of all 
and everything I said. No ; never that, to all Eter- 
nity. Rather anything than that ! Save me ! Oh, 
for some way out of it. (The hall-door bell rings.') 
Doctor Rank ! Rather anything than that, whatever 
it may be. (She drags herself slowly along, with her 
hand over her face, goes to the door and opens it. RANK 


stands outside and hangs up his great coat. During 
the following scene it grows dark.) Good afternoon, 
Doctor Rank. I knew you by your ring. But you 
must not go to Torvald now ; for I believe he has 
some work to do. 

RANK. And you ? 

NORA (as he walks into the room, and she shuts the 
door behind him). Oh, you know perfectly well I have 
always a spare moment for you. 

RANK. Thank you. I shall avail myself of your 
kindness as long as ever I can. 

NORA. What does that mean ? As long as ever 
you can ? 

RANK. Yes ; does that frighten you ? 

NORA. You express yourself so curiously. Does 
it mean you have got to know something ? 

RANK. Something about which I have long been 
convinced ; but I did not think it would come off 
quite so soon. 

NORA (seizing his arm). What is it you have got 
to know ? Doctor Rank, you must tell me. 

RANK (sitting down by the stove]. I am running 
downhill. There is no help for it. 

NORA (breathing with relief}. You are the one, 
then, who . . . ? 

RANK. Who else should it be ? Why deceive 
oneself ? I am the most miserable of all my pa- 
tients, Mrs. Helmer. In the last few days I have 
had a general stock-taking of my inner man. Bank- 
ruptcy ! Before a month is over I shall be food for 
worms in the churchyard. 


NORA. Oh, what ugly things you say ! 

RANK. The thing itself is so cursed ugly. But 
the worst of it is, that so many other ugly things 
have to be gone through first. There is only one 
investigation to be made, and when I have made it 
I shall know exactly at what time dissolution will 
begin. There is something I want to say to you 
about that. Helmer has stamped on his refined 
nature such a hatred for all that is ugly ; I will not 
have him in my sick room. 

NORA. But, Doctor Rank 

RANK. I will not have him in my sick room 
upon any condition whatsoever. I close my door 
against him. As soon as I obtain completely cer- 
tain information as to the worst, I shall send you 
my visiting card with a black cross on it, and then 
you will know that the horrors of dissolution have 

NORA. Come, this is too bad of you. The things 
.you are saying, too, are too disagreeable for any- 
thing. And I was so particularly anxious you should 
be in a really good temper. 

RANK. With Death staring me in the face ? And 
all by way of penance for the faults of other people. 
What justice is there in that ? Just such compensa- 
tion is being exacted, inexorably, after one fashion 
or another, in every family. 

NORA (stopping her ears). Nonsense. Do be 
funny, funny ! 

RANK. Yes, really, the whole story is only worth 
laughing at. My poor innocent spine must do pen- 


ance for my father's notions of amusement when he 
was a lieutenant in the army. 

NORA (at the left table}. I suppose he was de- 
voted to asparagus and Strasburg pies, wasn't he ? 

RANK. Certainly, and to truffles. 

NORA. Yes, devoted to truffles, to be sure, and 
to oysters, I believe. 

RANK. Yes, to oysters ; no need to mention that ; 
oysters, of course. 

NORA. And then all the port wine and cham- 
pagne. It is sad that all these dainties should affect 
the bones so disastrously. 

RANK. Especially when the bones so disastrous- 
ly affected never got the least advantage from the 

NORA. Yes ; that is the saddest part of it 

RANK (looks at her searchingly). H m. . . . 

NORA (a moment later). Why were you smiling ? 

RANK. No ; it was you who smiled. 

NORA. No, you, Doctor Rank. 

RAXK (standing up). You are really a greater 
rogue than I thought 

NORA. To-day I am just inclined to play all sorts 
of tricks. 

RANK. It seems like it. 

NORA (with her hands on his shoulders}. Dear, 
good Doctor Rank, Death shall not take you away 
from Torvald and me. 

RANK. Oh, you will easily get over the loss. Peo- 
ple who go away are soon forgotten. 

NORA (looking at him anxiously). Do you think so ? 


RANK. People make fresh ties, and then 

NORA. Who will make fresh ties ? 

RANK. You and Helmer, as soon as I am gone. 
In fact, you are already setting about it, it seems to 
me. What was this Mrs. Linden doing here yester- 

NORA. Oh, that's it ? But you don't mean to say 
you're jealous of poor Christina ? 

RANK. Yes, I am. She will be my successor here 
in your house. This woman will probably 

NORA. Hush ! Not so loud; she is in there. 

RANK. To-day, as well ? There, just what I said ! 

NORA. Only to put my costume in order. But, 
really, what odious things you are saying {sits on the 
sofa). Now, do just be sensible, Doctor Rank ; to- 
morrow you shall see how beautifully I dance, and 
then you may fancy, if you like, that I am doing it 
all to please you only, and of course Torvald as well 
of course (takes various things out of the cardboard 
box). Doctor Rank, sit over herej I will show you 

RANK (sitting down). What is it? 

NORA. Look here. Do you see these ? 

RANK. Silk stockings. 

NORA. Flesh-colored. Aren't they lovely ? Oh, 
it's so dark here now ; but to-morrow. . . . No, no, 
no, you must only look at the feet. Very well, I 
give you leave to look at the rest too. 

RANK. H m ! 

NORA. What are you looking so critical about? 
Don't you think they would fit me? 


RANK. It is impossible I should have any settled 
opinion on that point. 

NORA (looking at him a moment). For shame (hits 
him lightly on the ear with the stockings]. Take that 
for it (puts them in the box again). 

RANK. And what other splendid things have you 
got there that I was to see ? 

NORA. You won't be allowed to see anything 
more, for you don't behave nicely. (She hums a lit- 
tle and searches among the things.} 

RANK (after a short silence). When I am sitting 
here in such perfect intimacy with you, 1 simply 
can't imagine what would have become of me if I 
had never entered this house. 

NORA (smiling). Yes, I really think you like be- 
ing with us. 

RANK (more softly, looking straight before him). 
And now I must go away from it all. 

NORA. Nonsense ! You won't go away from 

RANK (in the same tone). And not be able to leave 
behind me the smallest sign of thanks ; scarcely a 
passing thought of regret nothing but an empty 
place that can be filled by the next comer as well as 
by anybody else. 

NORA. And if I were to ask you now for . . . 

RANK. For what ? 

NORA. For a great proof of your friendship. 

RANK. Well, well ? 

NORA. No, I mean for a very, very great service. 


RANK. Would you really for once make me so 
happy as that would make me ? . , . 

NORA. Oh, you have no notion yet what it is. 

RANK. Very well ; please tell me directly. 

NORA. But I can't; it is such an extraordinarily 
great thing. Not only a service, but advice and help 

RANK. So much the better. I can't imagine 
what you can mean. But do go on. Don't you 
trust me ? 

NORA. Yes, as I trust nobody else. You are my 
best and most faithful friend. I know that. For 
that reason I will tell you what it is. Well, then, 
Doctor Rank, you must help me to hinder something. 
You know how deeply, how indescribably Torvald 
loves me ; he would not hesitate a moment to give 
his very life for mine. 

RANK (bending toward her). Nora, do you think, 
then that he is the only one who would 

NORA (with slight hesitation). Who ? 

RANK. Who would gladly give his life for you ? 

NORA (sadly). Oh ! 

RANK. I had sworn that you should know it be- 
fore I went away for ever. I should never find a 
better opportunity. Yes, Nora, now you know it. 
And now you know, too, that you can trust yourself 
to me as you could to no one else. 

NORA (stands up simply and calmly). Let me pass, 

RANK (makes way for her, but sits still). Nora. 

NORA (in the door to the hall}. Ellen, bring the 


lamp. ( Walks to the stave.} Oh, dear Doctor Rank, 
that was too bad of you. 

RANK (standing up). That I love you devotedly 
as no one else does ? Was that too bad of me ? 

NORA. No ; but that you should tell me so. It 
was really not necessary. 

RANK. What do you mean ? Did you know it 
then ? (ELLEN comes in with the lamp, sets it doom on 
the table, and goes out again). Nora, Mrs. Helmer, I 
ask you, did you know anything of it ? 

NORA. Oh, what do I know as to whether I knew 
or didn't know ? I really can't say. . . . But that 
you could possibly be so clumsy. Everything was 
going on so beautifully. 

RANK. Well, at any rate you know now for cer- 
tain that I am quite at your disposal, soul and body. 
And now speak on. 

NORA (looking at him). Speak on now ? 

RAXK. I beg you to tell me what it is you want. 

NORA. Now I can't say anything more to you. 

RANK. Oh, dear, dear ! you must not punish me 
in that way. Give me leave to do for you whatever 
is in a man's power. 

NORA. You can not do anything more for me 
now. And besides, I want no help from any stranger. 
You shall see it was all my imagination. Yes, mere 
imagination on my part. Of course. (Sits in the 
rocking-chair, looks at him, smiles.) Yes, you really 
are a charming gentleman, Doctor Rank. Now just 
tell me, aren't you ashamed of yourself now that the 
lamp is on the table ? 


RANK. No, indeed I am not. But perhaps I 
ought to go, and for ever ? 

NORA. No ; you needn't do that. You are to 
come to us as you always have come. You know 
very well that Torvald can't do without you. 

RANK. Yes ; but you ? 

NORA. Oh, it always gives me the greatest pleas- 
ure to have you with us. 

RANK. That is just what led me to mistake my 
path. You are a riddle to me. It often seemed to 
me as though you would almost as gladly spend your 
time with me as with Helmer. 

NORA. Yes don't you see ? one loves one per- 
son, and likes spending time with another. 

RANK. Ah, there's some truth in that. 

NORA. When I was still a girl at home I natu- 
rally loved papa beyond all else. But it always de- 
lighted me when I could steal into the maids' room ; 
for, in the first place, they never lectured me, and in 
the second, it was always so merry there. 

RANK. Oh, I see ; then it is their place I have 

NORA (jumps up and hurries toward him). Oh ! 
dear, good Doctor Rank, I never meant that. But 
you can very well imagine that I feel about Torvald 
just as I used to feel about father. 

ELLEN (coming from the hall}. Please, ma'am. 
( Whispers in her ear and gives her a card.) 

NORA (glances at the card). Ah ! (Puts it in her 

RANK. Something disagreeable up ? 


NORA. No, not in the least. It is only it is my 
new costume. 

RANK. How can it be ? It's there. 

NORA. Oh, that one, yes ; but it's another, that 
... I ordered it. ... Torvald is not to know. 

RANK. Oh, indeed. So that's the great secret. 

NORA. Yes, to be sure. Do just go into his 
room ; he is in the one beyond that one ; do keep 
him as long as you can. 

RANK. Make yourself easy ; he sha'n't get away 
from me (goes into HELMER'S room). 

NORA (to ELLEN). Then he is waiting in the 
kitchen ? 

ELLEN. Yes ; he came to the back door. 

NORA. But did you not tell him I had a visitor 
with me ? 

ELLEN. Yes, ma'am ; but it was no use. 

NORA. He really will not go away, then ? 

ELLEN. No, ma'am; not until he has spoken 
with you. 

NORA. Then let him come in, but quietly. And 
say nothing about it, Ellen ; it is a surprise for my 

ELLEN. Oh, yes, ma'am ; I quite understand 


NORA. The terrible thing is coming. It is here 
already. No, no, no ; it can never happen ; it shall 
not. (She goes to HELMER'S door and slips the bolt. 
ELLEN opens the hall door to KROGSTAD, and shuts it 
behind him. He wears a traveling coat, high boots, and 
a fur cap.) 



NORA (toward him). Speak quietly. My husband 
is at home. 

KROGSTAD. All right ; I don't care. 

NORA. What do you want of me ? 

KROGSTAD. An explanation of something. 

NORA. Be quick, then. What is it ? 

KROGSTAD. You know I have received my dis- 

NORA. I could not prevent it, Mr. Krogstad. I 
fought to the last on your behalf, but without suc- 

KROGSTAD. Does your husband love you so lit- 
tle ? He knows what it is that I can do to injure 
you, and yet he dares 

NORA. How could you think I should tell him ? 

KROGSTAD. Goodness me ! I didn't think that, 
either. To show so much manly courage did not look 
much like my fine Torvald Helmer. 

NORA. Mr. Krogstad, I demand respect for my 

KROGSTAD. To be sure; all due respect. But 
since you, dear madam, are so anxious to keep the 
matter secret, I suppose I may venture to assume 
that you are a little clearer than you were yesterday 
as to what you have really done ? 

NORA. Clearer than>w could ever make me. 

KROGSTAD. Yes, such a bad lawyer as I am. 

NORA. What is it you want ? 


KROGSTAD. Only to see how you were getting on, 
Mrs. Helmer. I have been thinking about you all 
day long. A cashier, a disgraced newspaper writer, 
a in short, a creature like me, you know, has a lit- 
tle bit of what people call "heart." 

NORA. Then show it ; think of my little children. 

KROGSTAD. Did you and your husband think of 
mine ? But let's leave that alone. I only wanted to 
tell you that you needn't take this matter too seri- 
ously. I sha'n't be the first one to talk about it. 

NORA. No ; to be sure. I knew you wouldn't 

KROGSTAD. It can be settled as amiably as pos- 
sible. Nobody need know. It can remain among 
us three. 

NORA. My husband is never to know anything 
about it. 

KROGSTAD. How can you prevent that? Can 
you pay off the debt, eh ? 

NORA. No, not at once. 

KROGSTAD. Or have you any means of raising 
the money in the next few days ? 

NORA. No means that I will make use of. 

KROGSTAD. And if you had, it would be no good 
to you now. If you stood here with ever so much 
money in your hand you wouldn't get your I. O. U. 
back from me. 

NORA. Tell me what you want to do with it. 

KROGSTAD. I only want to keep it, to have it in 
my own hands. No stranger shall hear anything of 
it If you were to form any desperate resolution. . . . 


NORA. That I shall do. 

KROGSTAD. If you should think of leaving your 
husband and children. . . . 

NORA. That I shall do. 

KROGSTAD. Or if you should think of doing some- 
thing far worse. . . . 

NORA. How do you know that ? 

KROGSTAD. Never mind that. 

NORA. How do you know I had that in my 
mind ? 

KROGSTAD. Most of us think of that as the first 
thing to do. I had thought of it too ; but really had 
not the courage. 

NORA (yoicelessly). Nor I. 

KROGSTAD (relieved}. No, one hasn't. You had 
not the courage either, had you ? 

NORA. I hadn't, I hadn't. 

KROGSTAD. Besides, it would be very silly. When 
the first storm is only over in the house ... I have 
a letter in my pocket for your husband. 

NORA. Telling him everything ? 

KROGSTAD. Sparing you as far as possible. 

NORA (quickly). He shall never have that letter, 
Tear it up. I will get you the money somehow. 

KROGSTAD. I beg your pardon, Mrs. Helmer ; 
but I believe I have already told you . . . 

NORA. Oh, I'm not talking about the money I 
owe you. Tell me how large a sum you demand from 
my husband, and I will get it for you. 

KROGSTAD. I demand no money from your hus< 


NORA. What do you want, then ? 

KROGSTAD. I will tell you. I want to get on in 
the world, dear madam ; I want to redeem my posi- 
tion in it. And your husband shall help me to do 
it. For the last eighteen months I have not been 
concerned in any dishonorable transaction ; during 
that time I have been fighting against the most 
gloomy circumstances. I was content to work my 
way up, step by step. Now I am turned out, and I 
am not satisfied to get employment again as a matter 
of favor. I mean to rise in the world, I tell you. 
.... I will get into the Bank again and in a higher 
position than before. Your busband shall make a 
place on purpose for me. 

NORA. He will never do that. 

KROGSTAD. He will do it. I know him ; he won't 
dare to refuse. And when I am once associated with 
him there you will soon see ! Before a year is out 
I shall be the manager's right hand. It won't be 
Torvald Helmer but Nils Krogstad who carries on 
the Joint Stock Bank. 

NORA. You'll never get to that point. 

KROGSTAD. Perhaps you would . . . 

NORA. Yes ; now I have the courage for it. 

KROGSTAD. Oh, you don't frighten me. An ele- 
gant, spoilt lady like you . . . 

NORA. You will see, you will see. 

KROGSTAD. Under the ice, perhaps. Down into 
the black cold water. And then next spring be fished 
up on the shore, ugly, unrecognizable, with your hair 
all fallen out . 


NORA. You don't frighten me. 

KROGSTAD. Nor you me. People don't do things 
of that sort, Mrs. Helmer. And, after all, what 
would be the use of it ? I have your husband so 
completely here in my pocket. 

NORA. Even then still ? When I am no longer 

KROGSTAD. Do you forget that your good name 
after death is in my hands ? (NORA stands speech- 
less and looks at him.} Well, now you are prepared. 
Do nothing foolish. So soon as Helmer has received 
my letter I shall expect to hear from him. And bear 
in mind that it is your husband himself who has 
forced me back again into such paths. That I will 
never forgive him. Good-bye, Mrs. Helmer (goes 
through the hall ). 


NORA (hurries to the door, opens it a little, and list- 
ens). He is going. He is not putting the letter in 
the box. No, no, it would be quite impossible. 
(Opens the door further and further.) What does that 
mean ? He is standing still, not going down the 
stairs. Is he thinking better of it ? Would he ? 
(A letter falls into the box ; KROGSTAD'S steps are then 
heard until lost in the distance down the stairs. NORA, 
with a suppressed cry, rushes through the room to the 
sofa-table ; short paused) In the letter-box (goes quiet- 
ly and timidly to the door). There it lies. Torvald, 
Torvald, now we are lost. 


MRS. LINDEN (with the costume from the left room). 
Yes, now I have got it into nice order again. Should 
we just try it on ? 

NORA (hoarsely and softly). Christina, do come 

MRS. LINDEN (throws the dress on the sofa). 
What's the matter ? You look so disturbed. 

NORA. Do come here. Do you see the letter? 
There, see, through the wire-work of the letter-box. 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, yes ; I see it. 

NORA. That letter is from Krogstad. 

MRS. LINDEN. Nora, it was Krogstad who lent 
you the money. 

NORA. Yes ; and now Torvald will know all 
about it. 

MRS. LINDEN. Believe me, Nora, it is the best 
thing for you both. 

NORA. You don't know all yet. I have forged a 

MRS. LINDEN. Good heavens ! 

NORA. I only wanted to tell you that, Christina ; 
you shall be my witness. 

MRS. LINDEN. How " witness " ? What am I 

NORA. If I lose my mind, and that might easily 


NORA. Or if any other blow should strike me 
anything such as my not being here present. 

MRS. LINDEN. Nora, Nora, you don't know what 
you're saying. 


NORA. In case there were to be anybody who 
wanted to take the . . . the whole blame, I mean . . . 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, yes; but how can you 
think . . , 

NORA. Then you will be able to bear witness 
that it is not true, Christina. I know very well what 
I am saying. I am in full possession of my senses ; 
and I say to you : Nobody else knew anything about 
it ; I alone have done everything. Don't forget 

MRS. LINDEN. I won't forget it. But I haven't 
the remotest notion what it all means. 

NORA. Oh, how should you ? But a miracle will 
come to pass even yet. 

MRS. LINDEN. A miracle ? 

NORA. Yes, a miracle ; but it is so terrible, Chris- 
tina. It must not happen for anything in the world. 

MRS. LINDEN. I will go to Krogstad at once and 
talk to him. 

NORA. Don't go to him. He will do you some 

MRS. LINDEN. There was a time when for love of 
me he would have done anything. 

NORA. He? 

MRS. LINDEN. Where does he live ? 

NORA. Oh, how can I tell ? Yes (feels in her 
pocket} here, I have a card of his. But the letter, 
the letter. 



HELMER (in Us room knocks at the door). Nora ! 

NORA (cries out anxiously). Yes; what is it? 
What do you want with me ? 

HELMER. Well, well, don't be so frightened. We 
aren't coming in; you have bolted the door, you 
know. You are trying*your dress on, I dare say. 

NORA. Yes, yes; I am trying it on. It suits me 
so well, Torvald. 

MRS. LINDEN (who has read the card). Then he 
lives close by here,- at the corner ? 

. NORA. Yes ; but it's no use now. We are lost 
The letter is actually in the box. 

MRS. LINDEN. And your husband has the key ? 

NORA. Always. 

MRS, LINDEN. Krogstad must ask to have his 
letter back unreadL He must make some excuse 

NORA. But this is the very time when Torvald 

MRS. LINDEN. Prevent him ; go and stay with 
him ail the time. I will come back as quickly as I 
can. (She goes quickly away through the entrance 

NORA (goes to HELMER'S door, opens it, and peeps 
in). Torvald. 




HELMER (in the back room). Well, now may one 
come back into one's own room ? Come, Rank, now 
we'll just have a look (in the door). But what is 
that ? 

NORA. What is what, Torvald, dear ? 

HELMER. Rank led me to expect a grand dress- 
transformation scene. 

RANK (in the door). So I understood ; I was mis- 
taken too. 

NORA. No ; before to-morrow evening you will 
neither of you get any opportunity of admiring me. 

HELMER. But, dear Nora, you look so tired. 
Have you been practicing too hard ? 

NORA. No, I haven't practiced at all yet. 

HELMER. But you really must. 

NORA. Yes, it is quite indispensable, Torvald. 
But without your help it won't go on well ; I have 
forgotten everything. 

HELMER. Oh, we'll soon freshen it all up again. 

NORA. Yes, do help me, Torvald. You promised 
me you would, didn't you ? Oh ! I am so anxious 
about it. Before such a large party . . . this even- 
ing you must devote to me exclusively. No work 
allowed, no pen touched! Say "yes." Am I not 
right, Torvald ? 

HELMER. I promise you : all this evening I will 
be at your entire disposal. You little helpless thing 


hm, it is true ; but I will first (Goes toward the 
halt door.) 

NORA. What do you want outside there ? 

HELMER. Only to see if any letters have come. 

NORA. No, no, don't do that, Torvald. 

HELMER. But why not ? 

NORA. Torvald, I beg you not to ; there are none 

HELMER. Let me just see (will go). (NORA, at 
the piano, plays the first bars of the tarantella. HEL- 
MER standing still in the door. Ah ! 

NORA. I can't dance to-morrow if I don't prac- 
tice with you first. 

HELMER (going to her). Are you really so afraid, 
dear Nora ? 

NORA. Yes, so dreadfully afraid. Let me prac- 
tice at once ; we have a little time left before dinner. 
Oh! sit down here and accompany me, Torvald 
dear ; correct and teach me if I ... 

HELMER. With all the pleasure in life, since you 
wish it. (He sits down to the piano.) 

NORA (takes the tambourine, and a long gay shawl 
from the box ; drapes herself with the shawl very rap- 
idly ; then with a bound comes to the front of the stage). 
Now you play and I will dance. (HELMER plays, 
NORA dances ; RANK stands at the piano behind HEL- 
MER and watches.) 

HELMER (playing). Slower, slower ! 

NORA. I can't do it differently. 

HELMER. Not so violently, Nora, 

NORA. That is just its style. 


HELMER (stops). No, no ; it isn't right. 

NORA (laughs and swings the tambourine). Didn't 
I tell you so ? 

RANK. I will accompany you a little. 

HELMER (rising). Yes; do so; then I can cor- 
rect her better. (RANK sits down to the piano and 
plays. NORA dances more and more wildly. HELMER 
stands by the fire and addresses frequent remarks in 
correction during the dance. She seems not to hear them. 
Her hair gets loose and falls on her shoulders ; she does 
not heed it, but goes on dancing. MRS. LINDEN 
enters. ) 

MRS. LINDEN (stands as though spell-bound in the 
doorway]. Oh ! 

NORA (dancing). It is merry enough here, Chris- 

HELMER. But, dearest Nora, you are dancing as 
if it were a matter of life and death. 

NORA. And so it is. 

HELMER. Rank, just stop ; this is the merest 
madness. . . . Stop, I say. (RANK stops playing, and 
NORA comes to a sudden standstill). 

HELMER (going toward her). 1 should never have 
believed it. You have positively forgotten the whole 

NORA (throws the tambourine away). You see for 

HELMER. You really do want teaching. 

NORA. Yes ; now you see how needful it is. You 
must practice with me up to the last moment. Will 
you, Torvald? 


HELMER. Certainly, certainly. 

NORA. Neither to-day nor to-morrow must you 
think about anything but me ; you must not open a 
single letter, not so much as the letter-box. 

HELMER. Oh, you are still afraid of that man. 

NORA. Yes, I am. 

HELMER. Nora, I can see it in your manner. 
There is a letter from him in the box now. 

NORA. I don't know ; I believe so. But you are 
not to read anything of that sort nothing of a worry- 
ing kind must come between us until everything is 

RANK (softly to HELMER). You mustn't contra- 
dict her. 

HELMER (putting his arm round far}. The child 
shall have her own way. But to-morrow night, when 
you have danced 

NORA. Then you will be free. 

ELLEN (in the left door). Dinner is ready, ma'am. 

NORA. We will have some champagne, Ellen. 

ELLEN. Yes, ma'am (goes). 

HELMER. Dear, dear, quite a banquet ! 

NORA. Yes, a champagne banquet until morning 
dawns. (Calls out} And maccaroons, Ellen plenty 
a great many just this once. 

HELMER (taking her hands). Come, come, not 
this awful wildness. Be my gentle little lark once 

NORA. Oh, yes, I will. But now go into the din- 
ing-room ; and you too, Doctor Rank. Christina, 
you must help me to do my hair. 


RANK (softly as they go). There is nothing in the 
wind ? Nothing ... I mean . . . 

HELMER. Nothing whatever, my dear Rank. It 
is merely this babyish anxiety I was telling you 
about. (Both go to the right.) 

NORA. Well? 

MRS. LINDEN. He has gone out of town. 

NORA. I saw it in your face. 

MRS. LINDEN. He only returns to-morrow even- 
ing. I left a note for him there. 

NORA. You should not have done that. You 
ought not to hinder anything. After all, there is 
something glorious in expecting a miracle to happen. 

MRS. LINDEN. What do you expect, then ? 

NORA. Oh, you can't understand. Go to them 
in the dining-room ; I'll come in a moment. (MRS. 
LINDEN goes to the dining-room right.) 


NORA (stands a while as though collecting her 
thoughts. Then looks at her watch). Five seven hours 
before midnight. Then twenty-four hours before 
the next midnight. Then the tarantella will be over. 
Twenty-four and seven. Still thirty-one hours to 

HELMER (in the right-hand door). But where is 
my little lark ? 

NORA (runs with open arms toward him). Here 
she is. 



( The sofa-table is in the middle, together with the chairs 
surrounding it. A lamp lit is on the table. The door 
to the hall stands open. Dance-music is heard from 


MRS. LINDEN sits by the table and turns the pages of a 
book absently. She tries to read, but seems unable to 
fix her attention , she frequently listens and looks 
anxiously toward the hall door. Then enter KROG- 


MRS. LINDEN (looking at her watch]. Not here 
yet. And it is the ktest time I mentioned. If he 
only doesn't . . . (listens again). Oh, there he is ! 
(She goes into the hall and opens the corridor-door care- 
fully ; a light tread is heard on the steps. She whis- 
pers.) Come in. Nobody is here. 

KROGSTAD (in the door-way). I found a note from 
you at my house. What does that mean ? 

MRS. LINDEN. It is absolutely necessary I should 
speak with you. 

KROGSTAD. Indeed? And was it absolutely 
necessary the interview should take place here ? 

MRS. LINDEN. It was impossible at my lodgings. 
I have no sitting-room to myself. Come in ; we are 
quite alone. The servants are asleep, and the Hel- 
mers are at the ball next door. 


KROGSTAD (coming into the room). Ah! what? 
The Helmers are dancing this evening ? Really ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes. Why not? 

KROGSTAD. Quite right. Why not ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Apd now, Mr. Krogstad, let us 
talk a little. 

KROGSTAD. Have we anything left to say to each 
other ? 

MRS. LINDEN. We have a great deal to say. 

KROGSTAD. I should not have thought so. 

MRS. LINDEN. Because you have never really un- 
derstood me. 

KROGSTAD. Was there anything more to under- 
stand than what was clear as daylight ? A heart- 
less woman jilts a man when a better match offers 

MRS. LINDEN. Do you consider me so utterly 
heartless? Do you think I should have broken it 
off with a light heart ? 

KROGSTAD. Didn't you ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Did you really think that of me, 

KROGSTAD. Then why did you write me such a 
letter as you wrote at the time ? 

MRS. LINDEN. I really could not do otherwise. 
Since I had to break with you, it surely was also my 
duty to destroy in your heart everything you felt 
for me. 

KROGSTAD {squeezing his hands together]. So that 
was it. And all all for the sake of money only. 

MRS. LINDEN. You ought not to forget that I 


had a helpless mother and two little brothers. We 
could not wait for you, Nils ; at that time you had 
but poor prospects. 

KROGSTAD. Very likely; but you had no right 
to turn me off for the sake of any other man. 

MRS. LINDEN. Oh, I don't know. I have asked 
myself often enough since whether I had the right 
to do it. 

KROGSTAD (more gently). When I had lost you, 
it seemed to me as though the very ground had sunk 
away from under my feet. Just look at me : I am a 
shipwrecked man on a raft now. 

MRS. LINDEN. I should think some help was 
close at hand. 

KROGSTAD. It was at hand ; but then you came 
and stood in my way. 

MRS. LINDEN. Without knowing it, Nils. It was 
only this morning I learned that it was your post I 
had got. 

KROGSTAD. I believe you, since you say so. But 
now you do know it, do you mean to give it up ? 

MRS. LINDEN. No; for that would not help you 
in the least. 

KROGSTAD. Oh, "help," "help." I should doit 
whether or no. 

MRS. LINDEN. Life and hard, bitter necessity 
have taught me to act prudently. 

KROGSTAD. And life has taught me not to trust 
fine speeches. 

MRS. LINDEN. Then life has taught you a very 
sensible thing. But I suppose you do trust deeds ? 


KROGSTAD. What do you mean by that ? 

MRS. LINDEN. You said you were a shipwrecked 
man on a raft. 

KROGSTAD. I have good reason to say so. 

MRS. LINDEN. I too have suffered shipwreck, 
and am on a raft. 

KROGSTAD. You made your own choice. 

MRS. LINDEN. I had no choice at the time. 

KROGSTAD. Well, what more ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Nils, how would it be if we two 
shipwrecked people could belong to each other ? 

KROGSTAD. What are you saying? 

MRS. LINDEN. Two people have better chance of 
being saved on a raft than if each stays on his own. 

KROGSTAD. Christina ! 

MRS. LINDEN. Why do you think I came here, 
to town ? 

KROGSTAD. Was it with some thought of me ? 

MRS. LINDEN. I must work in order to endure 
life. I have worked from my youth up, and work 
has been my one best friend. But now I am quite 
alone in the world so terribly empty and forsaken. 
There is no happiness in working for one's self. 
Nils, give me somebody and something to work for. 

KROGSTAD. I don't believe a word of it. It is 
nothing but a woman's exaggerated notion of self- 

MRS. LINDEN. Have you ever noticed any exag- 
geration in me ? 

KROGSTAD. What ! You really could ? Tell me, 
do you know my past ? 



KROGSTAD. And do you know my reputation ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Did you not hint it just now, when 
you said that with me you could have been another 
man ? 

KROGSTAD. I am perfectly certain of it. 

MRS. LINDEN. Could it not yet be so ? 

KROGSTAD. Christina, do you say this after full 
deliberation ? Yes, you do. I see it in your face. 
Then you really have the courage ? 

MRS, LINDEN. I need somebody to mother, and 
your children need a mother. We two are necessa- 
ry to each other. . Nils, I believe in the nobler part 
of your nature. With you I dare attempt anything ! 

KROGSTAD (seizing her hands). Thank you, thank 
you, Christina. Now I shall know how to set about 
raising myself in the eyes of others. Oh, but I for- 
got ... 

MRS. LINDEN (listtns). Hush! the tarantella ! 
Go, go. 

KROGSTAD. Why, what is it ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Don't you hear the dancing over- 
head ! When that is over they will come back. 

KROGSTAD. All right ; 111 go. But it's too late 
now. Of course you don't know what it is I have 
set going against the Helmers ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, Nils, I know. 

KROGSTAD. And nevertheless you have the cour- 
age to 

MRS. LINDEN. I can very well comprehend to 
what lengths despair may drive a man like you. 


KROGSTAD. Oh, if I could but undo my share 
in it! 

MRS. LINDEN. You can, for your letter lies there 
in the box. 

KROGSTAD. Does it really? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes; but . . . 

KROGSTAD (looking at her searchingly) . Is that 
the explanation of it? You wanted to save your 
friend at any price. Say it straight out. Is that the 
way the land lies ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Nils, a person who has once sold 
herself for the sake of others never does it again. 

KROGSTAD. I will ask to have my letter back 

MRS. LINDEN. No, no. 

KROGSTAD. Yes ; -I shall stop here till Helmer 
comes. I shall ask to have my letter back ; I shall 
tell him it merely relates to my dismissal, and that he 
had better not read it. 

MRS. LINDEN. No, Nils, you must not ask for the 
letter back. 

KROGSTAD. But tell me, wasn't that the very rea- 
son for your bidding me come here ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, in my first moment of terror. 
But since then more than twenty-four hours have 
gone by, and during that time I have heard things 
in this house that are beyond belief. Helmer must 
know everything ; between those two there must be 
the completes! possible understanding, and that can 
never come to pass while all these excuses and con- 
cealments are going on. 


KROGSTAD. Very well, since you are so bold. 
But in any case, there is one thing I can do, and it 
shall be done at once. 

MRS. LINDEN (listens). Make haste ; go, go. The 
dance is over ; we are not safe another moment 

KROGSTAD. I will wait for you in the street, in 
front here. 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, do. You must take me 

KROGSTAD. Oh ! I never was so happy in all my 
life before. (Goes. The door betu<etn the room and 
the hall remains open during the follounng. ) 


MRS. LINDEN (sets the furniture a little straight 
and puts her walking things together). What a change ! 
what a happy change, to have somebody to work for, 
to live for ! to bring loving order into a deserted 
home ! Yes, that is what I will do. ... If they 
came soon (listens). Ah, here they are ! Where are 
my things ? ( Takes bonnet and cloak. HELMER'S and 
NORA'S voices are heard a key is turned in the lock, 
and HELMER drags NORA almost violently into the hall. 
She wears the Italian costume with a large black shawl 
yver it. He is in evening dress, with an open black 

NORA (still in the door, struggling with him). No, 
no, no ; I won't go in ; I want to go up-stairs again. 
I don't want to leave the ball so early . . . 


HELMER. But, dearest Nora 

NORA. Oh, I do beg you so imploringly, so ear- 
nestly, Torvald only one more hour. 

HELMER. Not another minute, Nora dear. You 
know we settled it should be this way. Come, go 
into the room ; you are catching cold here. (He 
leads her gently into the room in spite of her resistance.) 

MRS. LINDEN. Good evening. 

NORA. Christina ! 

HELMER. What, Mrs. Linden, you here so late ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, pardon me ; I did so want 
to see Nora in her costume. 

NORA. Have you been sitting here waiting for 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes. Unfortunately I did not 
come early enough. You were already gone up- 
stairs, and then I did not wish to go away again 
without seeing you. 

HELMER (taking NORA'S shawl off). Well, then, 
just look at her, but quietly. I think she is worth 
looking at. Is she not beautiful, Mrs. Linden ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, I must say 

HELMER. Is she not wonderfully lovely ? That 
was the general opinion at the ball. But she is 
dreadfully obstinate dear little creature ! What is 
to be done with her? Will you believe it, I had 
almost to use force to get her away from the ball ? 

NORA. Oh, Torvald, you will be sorry you did 
not let me stop at least half an hour longer. 

HELMER. There ! you hear her, Mrs. Linden ? 
She dances her tarantella, wins wild applause which, 


however, was but due to her, although perhaps her 
rendering was a little too realistic ; I mean ... a 
little more than could be reconciled with the strict 
demands of art. But be that as it may, the chief 
thing was she got applauded, wildly applauded. 
Ought I to have let her stay any longer, and weaken 
the impression? Not if I know it. I took my 
charming Capri maiden, I might say my capricious 
maiden from Capri, under my arm ; a rapid turn 
round the room ; bows from all sides, and, as they 
say in novels the lovely apparition was gone. A 
departure should always be effective, Mrs. Linden ; 
but I can't get Nora to see it. ... By Jove, it's 
warm here. ( Throws his domino on a chair and opens 
the door to his room.) What? It's very dark here. 
Yes, of course ; pardon me. (He goes inside and 
lights two candles) 

NORA (whispers quickly and breathlessly). Well ? 

MRS. LINDEN (softly). I have spoken to him. 

NORA. And? 

MRS. LINDEN. Nora. . . . You must tell your 
husband everything. 

NORA. I knew it 

MRS. LINDEN. You have nothing to fear from 
Krogstad, but you must speak. 

NORA. I shall not speak. 

MRS. LINDEN. Then the letter will. 

NORA. Thank you, Christina. Now I know what 
I must do. Hush ! 

HELMER (coming back). Well, Mrs. Linden, have 
you admired her ? 


MRS. LINDEN. Yes ; and now I will say good- 

HELMER. What, already ? Does this knitting be- 
long to you ? 

MRS. LINDEN (taking it). Yes, thanks ; I was 
nearly forgetting it. 

HELMER. Then you do knit ? 


HELMER. Do you know, you ought to crochet 
instead ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Indeed ! Why ? 

HELMER. Because it looks better. Look now. 
You hold the crochet work in the left hand in this 
way, and then move the needle about with the right 
hand in and out in an easy, long-shaped bow, don't 
you ? 

MRS. LINDEN. Yes, I dare say you do. 

HELMER. While in knitting, on the contrary, it 
always looks ugly. Look now, your arms are bent 
tightly together, and the needles go up and down ; 
there is something Chinese in it. ... Oh ! that really 
was splendid champagne we had at the ball. 

MRS. LINDEN. Now, good-night, Nora, and don't 
be obstinate any more. 

HELMER. Well said, Mrs. Linden. 

MRS. LINDEN. Good-night, Mr. Helmer. 

HELMER (going with her to the door). Good-night, 
good-night. I hope you'll get safely home. I would 
gladly . . . but it really is not far for you. Good- 
night, good-night. (She goes. He shuts the door be- 
hind her and comes to the front of the stage again.} 



HELMER. There, now we've shut the door on her. 
She is an awful bore. 

NORA. Aren't you very tired, Torvald ? 

HELMER. No, not in the least. 

NORA. Nor sleepy ? 

HELMER. Not a bit. On the contrary, I feel 
most lively. But you ? Yes, you look really tired 
and sleepy. 

NORA. Yes, I am very tired. I shall soon be 
asleep now. 

HELMER. There now, you see. I was right, 
after all, in not stopping longer with you at the 

NORA. Oh, all is right that you do. 

HELMER (kisses her on the forehead} . That is my 
dear little lark speaking like a human being. Did 
you happen to notice, too, how merry Rank was this 
evening ? 

NORA. Oh, was he really ? I had no opportunity 
of speaking with him. 

HELMER. Nor had I, much ; but I have not seen 
him in such good spirits for a long time. (Looks at 
her for a little while, then comes nearer to her.} Hm 
. . . but it is quite too supremely delightful to be 
back in our own home, for me to be quite alone with 
you. Oh, you enchanting, glorious woman ! 

NORA. Don't look at me in that way, Torvald. 

HELMER. I am not to look at my dearest treas- 


ure ? all the glory that is mine, mine only, wholly 
and altogether mine. 

NORA (goes to the other side of the table). You must 
not talk to me in that way this evening. 

HEI.MER {following her). I see, you have the 
tarantella still in your blood ; and that makes you 
more enchanting than ever. Listen : the other guests 
are beginning to go now. (More softly.) Nora, soon 
all the house will be still. 

NORA. I hope so. 

HELMER. Yes ; don't you, Nora darling? Oh, 
do you know, when I go into society with you in this 
way, do you know why I speak so little to you, and 
keep at such a distance from you, and only steal a 
glance at you now and then do you know why I do 
it ? Because I am fancying that you are one whom 
I love in secret, that I am secretly betrothed to you, 
and that nobody guesses there is any particular un- 
derstanding between us. 

NORA. Yes, yes, yes ; I know very well that all 
your thoughts are with me. 

HELMER. And then, when we have to go home, 
and I put the shawl about your dear young shoul- 
ders, and this glorious throat of yours, I imagine you 
are my bride, and that we are coming straight from 
our wedding, and that I am bringing you for the first 
time to my home, and that I am alone with you for 
the first time, quite alone with you, you shy, beauti- 
ful thing ! All this evening I was longing for you, 
and you only. When I watched you chasing and 
beckoning during the tarantella, it seemed to set my 


blood on fire ; I could endure it no longer . . . and 
that's why I made you come home with me so early. 

NORA. Go, now, Torvald ; you must leave me 
alone. I don't want all that. 

HELMER. What can you mean? You must be 
joking with me, my pet. You don't want. . . . Am 
I not your husband ? (A knock.) 

NORA (with a start). Do you hear? 

HELMER (at the hall door). Who is there? 


RANK (outside). It is I. May I come in for a 
moment ? 

HELMER (in a low tone, annoyed). Oh, dear, what 
can he want at this time of night ? (Aloud.) Wait 
a little. (Goes and opens the door.) Come, it is nice 
of you not to pass by our door. 

RANK. I thought I heard your voices, and that 
made me long just to look in. (Glances rapidly 
round the room.) Yes, here is the dear place I know 
so well ! It is so quiet and comfortable here with 
you two. 

HELMER. You seemed to enjoy yourself exceed- 
ingly up- stairs too. 

RANK. Exceedingly. Why should I not ? Why 
shouldn't one get enjoyment out of everything in 
this world ? At any rate as much and as long as 
one can. The wine was splendid. 

HELMER. Especially the champagne. 


RANK. Did you notice it too ? It was perfectly 
incredible the quantity I contrived to drink. 

NORA. Torvald drank a great deal of champagne 
this evening too. 

RANK. Did he ? 

NORA. Yes ; and after it he is always in such a 
good temper. 

RANK. Well, why should one not have a merry 
evening after a well-spent day ? 

HELMER. Well-spent ? As to that I have not 
much to boast of. 

RANK (tapping him on the shoulder). But I have, 
don't you see ? 

NORA. Then you have certainly been engaged in 
some scientific investigation, Doctor Rank. 

RANK. Quite right. 

HELMER. Just see ! Nora talks about scientific 

NORA. And am I to congratulate you on the re- 

RANK. By all means you must. 

NORA. Then the result was a good one. 

RANK. The best possible, alike for the physician 
and the patient namely, certainty. 

NORA (quickly and searchingly). Certainty ? 

RANK. Complete certainty. Ought not I, upon 
the strength of it, to be very merry this evening ? 

NORA. Yes, you were quite right to be, Doctor 

HELMER. I say the same provided you don't 
have to pay for it to-morrow. 


RANK. Well, in this life nothing is to be had for 

NORA. Doctor Rank, I am sure you are very 
fond of masquerade balls. 

RANK. When there are plenty of interesting 
masks present, I certainly am. 

NORA. Listen, and tell me what we two ought to 
appear as at our next masquerade. 

HELMER. You giddy little thing, are you thinking 
already about your next ball ? 

RANK. We two ? I will tell you. You must go 
as the lucky fairy. 

HELMER. Yes ; but think of a costume to suit 
the character. 

RANK. Let your wife appear in her every- day 

HELMER. Very nicely said. But what character 
will you take ? 

RANK. I am perfectly clear as to that, my dear 
friend ? 

HELMER. Well? 

RANK. At the next masquerade I shall appear 

HELMER. What a comical idea ! 

RANK. Don't you know there is a big, black hat 
haven't you heard stories of the hat that made 
people invisible ? You pull it all over you, and then 
nobody sees you. 

HELMER (with a suppressed smile). Oh, I dare 

RANK. But I am quite forgetting why I came in 


here. Helmet, just give me a cigar one of the 
dark Havanas. 

HELMER. With the greatest pleasure (hands him 
the case}. 

RANK (takes one and cuts the end off}. Thanks. 

NORA (hands him a fusee}. Here is a light. 

RANK. A thousand thanks. (She holds the match. 
He lights his cigar at it} And now good-by. 

HELMER. Good-by, good-by, my dear fellow. 

NORA. Sleep well, Doctor Rank. 

RANK. I thank you for that kind wish. 

NORA. Wish me the same. 

RANK. You ? Very well, since you ask me to 
sleep well. And thank you for the light. (He nods 
to them both and goes.} 


HELMER (in an undertone]. He's been drinking a 
good deal to-night. 

NORA {absently). I dare say. (HELMER takes 
his bunch of keys from his pocket and goes into the hall} 
Torvald, what are you doing out there ? 

HELMER. I must empty the letter-box it is 
quite full ; or to-morrow there will be no room for 
the newspapers. 

NORA. Are you going to do some work now ? 

HELMER. Not very likely ! What's this ? Some- 
body's been at the lock. 

NORA. The lock ? 


HELMER. Positively. What does it mean? I 
can't suspect that the servants. . . . Here's a broken 
hair-pin. Nora, it is one of yours. 

NORA (quickly). Then it must have been the 

HELMER. Then you really must break them of 
such tricks. Hm, hm. There ! at last I've got it 
open. ( Takes the contents out and calls into the kitch- 
en) Ellen, Ellen ; just put the hall-door lamp out. 
( He returns to the room and shuts the door into the hall. 
With letters in his hand.} Just see ! only look how 
they have accumulated. (Looks among them.) What's 

NORA (at the window). The letter ! oh, no, no, 
Torvald ! 

HELMER. Two visiting cards from Rank. 

NORA. From Doctor Rank ? 

HELMER (looking at them). Rank, M. D. They 
were on the top. He must have just put them in. 

NORA. Is there anything on them ? 

HELMER. Over the name there is a black cross. 
Look at it. That is a very ominous sign. Upon 
my word it is as though he were announcing his own 

NORA. So he is. 

HELMER. What ! do you know anything ? did he 
tell you anything ? 

NORA. Yes. He said that when the card came 
it would mean he had taken leave of us. He means 
to shut himself up and die. 

HELMER. Poor fellow! I did know that we 


shoul j not be able to keep him much longer. But so 
soon ! . . . And then he goes into his hiding-place 
like a wounded animal. 

NORA. If it has to happen it is best for it to hap- 
pen without words ; is it not, Torvald ? 

HELMER (walking up and down). He was so 
thoroughly intimate with us. I can hardly fancy our 
life without him. He and his troubles and loneli- 
ness formed a sort of cloudy background to our 
sunny happiness. Well, perhaps it is best so for 
him, at any rate (stands still}. And perhaps for us 
too. Now we two are thrown entirely upon each 
other. (Puts his arm round her). My darling wife ! 
it seems to me as if I could never hold you closely 
enough. Do you know, Nora, I often wish some 
danger might threaten you, against which I could 
stake body and soul, and all, all else, for your dear 

NORA (frees herself and says firmly and decidedly). 
Now you shall read your letters, Torvald. 

HELMER. No, no, not to-night. I want to stay 
with you, sweet wife. 

NORA. With the thought of your friend's death ? 

HELMER. You are right, dear. It has shaken us 
both. Something unlovely has come between us : 
thoughts of death and dissolution. We must try to 
get rid of them. Till then you go to bed, and I 
will go to my room a little. 

NORA (her arms round his neck). Torvald, good- 
night, good-night. 

HELMER (kisses her on the forehead) . Good-night, 


my little singing bird. Sleep well, Nora. Now I 
will go and read all my letters through. (He goes 
with the bundle of letters into his room and shuts the 
door behind hint.) 

NORA (with wild glances, wanders round touching 
things, seizes HELMER'S domino, throws it over her, and 
whispers quietly, hoarsely, and brokenly] . Never see 
him again. Never, never, never. ( Throws her shawl 
over her head.) And never see the children again. 
Not them either. Never, never. Oh, that black, 
icy water ! Oh, that bottomless. . . . Oh, if it were 
but over ! Now he has it ; now he is reading it* 
Oh, no, no ; not yet. Torvald, good-by, you and 
the children. (She is rushing out through the hall ; 
in the same moment HELMER tears his door open and 
stands there with an open letter in his hand.) 

HELMER. Nora ! 

NORA (crying aloud). Ah ! 

HELMER. What is this ? Do you know what is in 
this letter ? 

NORA. Yes, I know. Let me go ; let me go out. 

HELMER (holding her back). Where do you want 
to go to ? 

NORA (tries to get free). You sha'n't save me, 

HELMER (falling back). True ! is it true what he 
writes ? Horrible ! No, no ; it is perfectly impossi- 
ble ; it can not be true. 

NORA. It is true. I have loved you beyond all 
else in the world. 

HELMER. Don't come to me with silly excuses. 


NORA (a step nearer to him). Torvald ! 

HELMER. You miserable creature what have you 
done ? 

NORA. Let me go. You shall not suffer for it ; 
you shall not take it upon yourself. 

HELMER. Don't try any actress's tricks (shuts the 
door to the halt}. Here you will stay and abide my 
judgment. Do you comprehend what you have 
done ? Answer. Do you understand it ? 

NORA (looks at him fixedly, and says with height- 
ened expression). Yes. Now I begin to understand 
it quite. 

HELMER (walking round}. Oh, what an awful 
awakening ! During all these eight years you who 
were my pride and my joy a hypocrite, a liar ay, 
and worse, worse a criminal. Oh ! what an abyss 
of unloveliness it implies ! Ugh ! ugh ! (NORA is 
silent, and continues to look fixedly at him. HELMER 
continues standing before her.} I ought to have 
guessed that something of the kind was sure to hap- 
pen. I ought to have foreseen it. Your father's low 
principles be silent ! your father's low principles 
you have inherited, every one of them. No religion, 
no morality, no sense of duty. Oh, how bitterly 
punished I am for ever having winked at his doings ! 
I did it for your sake ; and this the way you re- 
ward me. 

NORA. Yes, just so. 

HELMER. You have utterly destroyed my happi- 
ness; you have annihilated my whole future. Oh, 
the thought of it is fearful ! I find I am in the 


power of a human being who is devoid of con- 
science ; he can do whatever he pleases with me, 
ask of me whatever he chooses, order me about and 
command me exactly as it suits him I must put up 
with it in silence. . . . And I must sink in this piti- 
able way and go to ruin for the sake of an unprinci- 
pled woman. 

NORA. When I am no more you will be free. 

HELMER. No fine phrases, if you please. That's 
the kind of thing your father was always ready with. 
What sort of good would it do me if you were " no 
more," as you say ? No good in the world ! In 
spite of that he can publish the whole story ; and if 
he does publish it, perhaps I should be suspected of 
having been a party to your criminal transactions. 
Perhaps people will think I was the originator, that I 
prompted you to do it. And for all this I have you 
to thank you whom during the whole of our mar- 
ried life I have so cherished. Do you understand 
now what it is you have done to me ? 

NORA (with cold calm). Yes. 

HELMER. It is so incredible that I can still hardly 
believe it. But I must come to some decision. Take 
that shawl off. Take it off, I say ! I must try to 
pacify him in one way or the other. The story must 
be kept a secret, cost what it may. And as far as 
you and I are concerned, it must appear that we 
go on as we always have gone on. But of course 
only in the eyes of the world. Of course you will 
continue to live in the house ; that is understood. 
But the children I shall not allow you to educate ; I 


dare not trust them to you. . . . Oh, that I should 
have to say this to one whom I have so tenderly 
loved . . . whom I still. . . . But that must be a 
thing of the past. Henceforward there can be no 
question of happiness, but merely of saving the ruins, 
the fragments, the appearance of it. (A ring. HEL- 
MER recovers himself '.) What's that? So late ! Can 
it be the most terrible thing of all ? Can he ? hide 
yourself, Nora ; say you are ill. (NORA stands mo* 
tionless. HELMER goes to the door and opens it.} 

ELLEN (half undressed in the hall}. Here is a let- 
ter for mistress. 

HELMER. Give it to me (seizes the letter and shut* 
the door}. Yes, from him. You will not have it. I 
shall read it. 

NORA. Read it. 

HELMER (by the lamp}. I have hardly courage to. 
Perhaps we are lost, both you and I. Ah ! I must 
know (tears the letter hastily open; looks at an inclosure 
a cry of joy}. Nora! (NORA looks interrogatively at 
him.} Nora ! Indeed I must read it again. Yes, 
yes ; it is so. I am saved ! Nora, I am saved ! 

NORA. And I ? 

HELMER. You too, of course ; we are both saved, 
you and I. Look here. He sends you back your 
acknowledgment of the debt ; he writes that he re- 
grets and laments that a happy turn in his life 
Oh, it can't matter to us what he writes. We are 
saved, Nora ! Nobody has any hold over you. Oh, 
Nora, Nora ! Ah, but first let us destroy all these 
horrible pieces of writing. . . . I'll just see, though 


{glances at the I. O. U.). No, I won't look at it ; 
the whole thing shall be no more to me than a bad 
dream. (Tears the I. O. U. and both the letters in two, 
throws them into the fire, and watches them burn.) 
There, it has no further existence. He wrote that 
ever since Christmas Day you had been . . . Oh, 
Nora, they must have been three awful days for you ! 

NORA. I have fought a hard fight in the last three 

H ELMER. What tortures you must have suffered, 
without having any other means of escape than . . . 
but we won't think about those ugly things any more ; 
we will only rejoice and repeat : It is all over, all 
over. Don't you hear ? Somehow, Nora, you don't 
seem able to grasp it yet ! Yes, it's over. Then 
what can be the meaning of this set look on your 
face? Oh, poor, dear Nora, I quite understand : 
you can't believe just yet that I have forgiven you. 
But I really have forgiven you, Nora ; I swear it to 
you ; I have forgiven you everything. I know so 
well you did it all out of love to me. 

NORA. That is true. 

HELMER. You loved me just as a wife should 
love her husband. It was only the means you could 
not judge rightly about. But do you think you are 
less dear to me for not knowing how to act alone ? 
No, indeed; only lean on me; I will advise and 
guide you. I should be no true man if it were not 
just this woman's helplessness that makes you doubly 
attractive in my eyes. You must not dwell on the 
harsh words I spoke in my first moment of terror. 


when I believed ruin was about to crush my very 
life out. I have forgiven you, Nora ; I swear to you 
I have forgiven you. 

NORA. I thank you for your forgiveness (goes 
through the left door). 

HELMER. No, stay (looks in). What are you doing 
in the alcove ? 

NORA (inside). Taking off my masquerade dress. 

HELMER (in the open door). Yes, do, dear ; try to 
rest and restore your mind to its balance, my scared 
little song-bird. You may go to rest in comfort ; I 
have broad wings to protect you (walks round by the 
door). Oh, how beautiful and cozy our home is, 
Nora ! Here you are safe ; here I can shelter you 
like a hunted dove, whom I have saved from the 
claws of the hawk. I shall soon quiet your poor beat- 
ing heart. Believe me, Nora, gradually peace will 
return. To-morrow all this will look quite different 
to you ; I shall not need to repeat over and over 
again that I forgive you : you will feel for yourself 
that it is true. How can you think I could ever 
bring my heart to drive you away, or even so much 
as reproach you ? Oh, you don't know what a true 
man's heart is made of, Nora ! A man feels there is 
something indescribably sweet and soothing in his 
having forgiven his wife, that he has honestly for- 
given her from the bottom of his heart. She be- 
comes his property in a double sense, as it were. 
She is as though born again ; she has become to a 
certain extent at once his wife and his child. And 
that is what you shall really be to me henceforth, you 


ill-advised and helpless darling. Don't be anxious 
about anything, Nora : only open your heart to me, 
and I will be both will and conscience to you. Why, 
what's this ? Not gone to bed ? You have changed 
your dress, 

NORA (entering in fur every-day dress). Yes, Tor- 
vald ; now I have changed my dress. 

HELMER. But why, now it is so late ? 

NORA. I shall not sleep to-night. 

HELMER. But, Nora dear . . . 

NORA (looking at her watch). It is not so very 
late. Sit down here, Torvald. We two have much 
to say to each other (she sits an one side of the 

HELMER. Nora, what does that mean ? Your 
cold, set face ! 

NORA. Sit down ; it will take some time. I have 
to talk over many things with you. 

HELMER (sitting opposite to her at the table). Nora, 
you make me anxious ... I don't in the least un- 
derstand you. 

NORA. Just so. You don't understand me. And 
in the same way I have never understood you, till 
to-night. No, don't interrupt me. Only listen to 
what I say. . . . This is a breaking off, Torvald. 

HELMER. How do you mean ? 

NORA (after a short silence). Does not one thing 
strike you as we sit here ? 

HELMER. What should strike me ? 

NORA. We have now been married eight years. 
Does it not strike you that to-night for the first time 


we two, you and I, husband and wife, are speaking 
together seriously ? 

HELMER. Well ; " seriously," what does that 
mean ? 

NORA. During eight whole years and more, since 
the day we first made each other's acquaintance, we 
have never exchanged one serious word about seri- 
ous things. 

HELMER. Ought I, then, to have persistently 
initiated you into difficulties you could not help me 
by sharing ? 

NORA. I am not talking of difficulties. All I 
am saying is, that we have never yet seriously talked 
any one thing over together. 

HELMER. But, dearest Nora, would it have been 
any good to you if we had ? 

NORA. That is the very point. You have never 
understood me. ... I have been greatly wronged, 
Torvald. First by father and then by you. 

HELMER. What ! by us two, by us two who 
have loved you more deeply than all others have ? 

NORA (shakes her head}. You two have never 
loved me. You only thought it was pleasant to be 
in love with me. 

HELMER. But, Nora, these are strange words. 

NORA. Yes ; it is just so, Torvald. While I was 
still at home with father, he used to tell me all his 
views, and so of course I held the same views ; if at 
any time I had a different view I concealed it, be- 
cause he would not have liked people with opinions 
of their own. He used to call me his little doll, and 


play with me, as I in my turn used to play with my 
dolls. Then I came to live in your house. 

HELMER. What expressions you do use to de- 
scribe our marriage ! 

NORA {undisturbed}. I mean then I passed over 
from father's hands into yours. You settled every- 
thing according to your taste ; or I did only what you 
liked ; I don't exactly know. I think it was both 
ways, first one and then the other. When I look 
back on it now it seems to me as if I had been living 
here like a poor man, only from hand to mouth. I 
lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald. But 
you would have it so. You and father have sinned 
greatly against me. It is the fault of you two that 
nothing has been made of me. 

HELMER. How senseless and ungrateful you are. 
. . . Haven't you been happy here ? 

NORA. No, never ; I thought I was, but I never 

HELMER. Not . . . not happy ? 

NORA. No ; only merry. And you were always 
so friendly and kind to me. But our house has been 
nothing but a nursery. Here I have been your 
doll-wife, just as at home I used to be papa's doll- 
child. And my children were, in their turn, my 
dolls. I was exceedingly delighted when you played 
with me, just as the children were whenever I 
played with them. That has been our marriage, 

HELMER. There is some truth in what you say, 
exaggerated and overdrawn though it may be. But 


henceforth it shall be different. The time for play 
is gone by ; now comes the time for education. 

NORA. Whose education mine or the chil- 
dren's ? 

HELMER. Yours, as well as the children's, dear 

NORA. Oh, Torvald, you are not the man to edu- 
cate me into being the right wife for you. 

HELMER. And you say that ? 

NORA. And I how have I been prepared to edu- 
cate the children ? 

HELMER. Nora ! 

NORA. Did you not say just now yourself that 
that was a task you dared not intrust to me ? 

HELMER. In a moment of excitement. How can 
you lay any stress upon that ? 

NORA. No ; you were perfectly right. For that 
task I am not ready. There is another which must 
be performed first. I must first try to educate my- 
self. In that you are not the man to help me. I 
must set to work alone : you are not the man to help 
me with it. I must do it alone. And that is why I 
am going away from you now. 

HELMER {jumping up). What what are you say- 

NORA. I must be thrown entirely upon myself if 
I am to come to any understanding as to what I am 
and what the things around me are : so I can not 
stay with you any longer. 

HELMER. Nora, Nora ! 

NORA. I shall now leave your house at once. 


Christina will, I am sure, take me in for to- 
night . . . 

HELMER. You are insane. I shall not allow that ; 
I forbid it. 

NORA. From this time it is useless for you to for- 
bid me things. Whatever belongs to me I shall take 
with me. I will have nothing from you either now 
or later on. 

HELMER. What utter madness this is ! 

NORA. To-morrow I shall go home I mean to 
my birthplace. There it will be easier for me to 
get something to do of one sort or another. 

HELMER. Oh, you blind, inexperienced creature ! 

NORA. I must try to gain experience, Torvald. 

HELMER. To forsake your home, your husband, 
and your children ! And only think what people will 
say about it. 

NORA. I can not take that into consideration. I 
only know that to go is necessary for me. 

HELMER. Oh, it drives one wild ! Is this the 
way you can evade your holiest duties ? 

NORA. What do you consider my holiest duties ? 

HELMER. Do I need to tell you that ? Are they 
not your duties to your husband and your children ? 

NORA. I have other duties equally sacred. 

HELMER. No, you have not. What duties do you 

NORA. Duties tcward myself. 

HELMER. Before all else you are a wife and mother. 

NORA. I no longer think so. I think that before 
all else I am a human being just as you are, or at 


least I will try to become one. I know very well that 
most people agree with you, Torvald, and what is to 
be found in books. But I can not be satisfied any 
longer with what most people say, and with what is 
in books. I must think over things for myself, and 
try to get clear about them. 

HELMER. Is it possible you are not clear about 
your position in your own family ? Have you not 
in questions like these a guide who can not err? 
Have you not religion ? 

NORA. Oh, Torvald, I don't know what relig- 
ion is. 

HELMER. What are you saying ? 

NORA. I know nothing but what our clergyman 
told me when I was confirmed. He explained that 
religion was this and that. When I have got quite 
away from here, and am all by myself, then I will ex- 
amine that matter too. I will see whether what our 
clergyman taught is true ; or, at any rate, whether it 
is true for me. 

HELMER. Who ever heard such things from a 
young wife's lips ? But if religion can not lead you 
to the right, let me appeal to your conscience ; for I 
suppose you have some moral feeling ? Or, answer 
me, perhaps you have none ? 

NORA. Well, Torvald, I think I had better not 
answer you. I really don't know. About those 
things I am not at all clear. I only know that I 
have quite a different opinion about them from yours. 
I have now learnt too that the laws are different from 
what I thought they were ; but I can't convince my- 


self that they are right. It appears that a woman 
has no right to spare her father trouble when he is 
old and dying, or to save her husband's life. I don't 
believe that 

HELMER. You talk like a child. You don't un- 
derstand the society in which you live. 

NORA. No, no more I do. But now I will set to 
work and learn it. I must make up my mind whether 
society is right or whether I am. 

HELMER. Nora, you are ill, you are feverish ; I 
almost think yon are out of your senses. 

NORA. I never felt so clear and certain about 
things as I feel to-night 

HELMER. And feeling clear and certain, you for- 
sake husband and children ? 

NORA. Yes; I do. 

HELMER. Then there is only one possible expla- 
nation of it 

NORA. What is that ? 

HELMER. You no longer love me. 

NORA. No : that is just the thing. 

HELMER. Nora ! . . . Can you bring yourself to 
say so? 

NORA. Oh, I'm so sorry, Torvald ; for you have 
always been so kind to me. But I can't help it. I 
do not love you any longer. 

HELMER. (keeping his composure with difficulty). 
Is this another of the things you are clear and certain 

NORA. Yes, quite. That is why I will not stay 
here any longer. 


HELMER. And can you also explain to me how I 
have lost your love ? 

NORA. Yes ; I can. It was this evening when 
the miracle did not happen ; for it was then I saw 
you were not the man J had taken you for. 

HELMER. Explain yourself more ; I don't under- 

NORA. I have waited so patiently all these eight 
years ; for, indeed, I saw well enough that miracles 
do not happen every day. Then this trouble broke 
over my head, and then I was so firmly convinced 
that now the miracle must be at hand. When Krog- 
stad's letter lay in the box outside, the thought never 
once occurred to me that you could allow yourself 
to submit to the conditions of such a man. I was 
so firmly convinced that you would say to him, " Pray 
make the affair known to all the world " ; and when 
that had been done. . . . 

HELMER. Well ? And when I had given my own 
wife's name up to disgrace and shame ! 

NORA. When that had been done, then you would, 
as I firmly believed, stand before the world, take 
everything upon yourself, and say, " I am the guilty 

HELMER. Nora! 

NORA. You mean I should never have accepted 
such a sacrifice from you ? No ; certainly not. But 
what would my assertions have been worth compared 
with yours ? That was the miracle that I hoped and 
feared. And it was to hinder that that I wanted 
to put an end to my life. 


HELMER. I would gladly work for you, day and 
night, Nora, bear sorrow and trouble for your sake ; 
but no man sacrifices his honor to a person he loves, 

NORA. That is what millions of women have 

HELMER. Oh, you think and talk like a silly 

NORA. Very likely. But you neither think nor 
speak like the man I could be one with. When 
your terror was over not for what threatened me, 
but for what involved you and when there was 
nothing more to fear, then it was in your eyes as 
though nothing whatever had happened. I was just 
as much as ever your lark, your doll, whom you 
would take twice as much care of in future because 
she was so weak and frail (stands up). Torvald, in 
that moment it became clear to me that I had been 
living here all these years with a strange man and 
had borne him three children. Oh, I can not bear 
to think of it. I could tear myself to pieces ! 

HELMER (sadly). I see it, I see it : a chasm has 
opened between us. ... But, Nora, can it never be 
filled up ? 

NORA. As I now am I am no wife for you. 

HELMER. I am strong enough to become another 

NORA. Perhaps, when your doll is taken away 
from you. 

HELMER. Part part from you ! No, Nora, no ; 
I can not grasp it. 

NORA (going into the right roam). The more 


reason for it to happen. (She comes in with her walk- 
ing things, and a small traveling bag, which she puts on 
the chair by the table.} 

HELMER. Nora, Nora, not now. Wait till to- 

NORA (putting on her cloak). I can not spend the 
night in the house of a man who is a stranger to me. 

HELMER. But can't we live here as brother and 
sister ? 

NORA (tying her bonnet tightly). You know quite 
well that would not last long (puts her shawl on). 
Good-by, Torvald. I will not see the children be- 
fore I go. I know they are in better hands than 
mine. As I now am I can be nothing to them. 

HELMER. But later, Nora later on ? 

NORA. How can I tell ? I have no idea what 
will become of me. 

HELMER. But you are my wife both as you are 
now and as you will become. 

NORA. Listen, Torvald. When a wife leaves 
her husband's house, as I am doing, then I have 
heard he is free from all duties toward her in the 
eyes of the law. At any rate, I release you from all 
duties. You must feel yourself no more bound by 
anything than I feel. There must be perfect free- 
dom on both sides. There, there is your ring back. 
Give me mine. 

HELMER. That too ? 

NORA. That too. 

HELMER. Here it is. 

NORA. Very well. Yes ; now it is all past and 


gone. Here, I lay the keys down. The maids know 
how to manage everything in the house far better 
than I do. To-morrow, when I have started on my 
journey, Christina will come, in order to pack up 
the few things that are my own. They will be sent 
after me. 

HELMER. Past and gone ! Nora, will you never 
think of me again ? 

NORA. Certainly. I shall think very often of you 
and the children and this house. 

HELMER. May I write to you, Nora ? 

NORA. No, never. You must not 

HELMER. But I may send you what . . . 

NORA. Nothing, nothing. 

HELMER. Help you when you are in need ? 

NORA. No, I say. I take nothing from stran- 

HELMER. Nora, can I never become to you any- 
thing but a stranger ? 

NORA (takitig her traveling bag sadly). The great- 
est miracle of all would have to happen then, Tor- 

HELMER. Tell me what the greatest miracle is. 

NORA. We both should need to change so, you 
as well as I, that Oh, Torvald, I no longer believe 
in anything miraculous. 

HELMER. But I believe in it. Tell me. We 
must so change that . . . 

NORA. That our living together could be a 
marriage. Good - by. (She goes out through the 


HELMER (sinks in a chair by the door with his hands 
before his face}, Nora, Nora! (He looks round and 
stands up.) Empty. She isn't here now. (A hope 
inspires him} The greatest miracle ! {Below-stairs a 
door is heard shutting ominously in the lock.) 




The Book of tbe Short Story. 

Edited by ALEXANDER JESSUP, Editor of Little 
French Masterpieces, etc., and HENRY SEIDEL 
CANBY, Instructor in Yale University. 12 mo. 
Cloth, $1.10. 

For the Teacher of English. 

For the Student of Literature. 

For the Story Writer. 

For the Story Reader. 

The purpose of this volume is to give, both by expo- 
sition and example, a view of the Short Story from the 
earliest times to the close of the ioth century. In addi- 
tion to the eighteen representative tales that the volume 
contains, there is a general introduction, and notes, before 
each story. There are also lists of the principal Short 
Story collections of the world's literature. It is believed 
that this is the first adequate attempt to present a com- 
prehensive and expert review of the Short Story within 
the scope of a single volume. While the book is designed 
primarily for educational purposes, it will be found to 
possess a lively interest for the general reader. 

Some of the writers whose short stories appear are : 





Jules Verne's " Les Forceurs de Blocus." 

Edited by C. FONTAINE, B.L., L.D., Professor of 
French and Spanish in the High School of Com- 
merce, New York. i6mo. Cloth, 30 cents. 

For almost half a century Jules Verne produced stories that delighted many 
thousands of readers of all ages. His complete works comprise more than 
sixty volumes, and, although many of them are replete with thrilling incidents 
and humorous touches, there is none that appeals to American pupils so 
strongly as " Les Forceurs de Blocus," connected as it is with the most stir- 
ring period of our history. 

Beaumarchais's " Le Barbier de Seville." 

Edited, with Introduction, Notes, and Vocabulary, 
by ANTOINE MUZZARELLI, Ph.D., Officer d'Academie. 
i6mo. Cloth, 35 cents. 

In this play Beaumarchais rejuvenates some of the stock figures of the 
stage, and makes of them original, living creations, which have passed into 
formal types. Such are the clever, roguish valet, Figaro, and the duped 
guardian, Bartholo. There are scenes in this comedy superior to anything 
of the kind elsewhere, full of a merry light-heartedness that communicates 
itself not only to the audience, but to the reader. The theme affords excellent 
opportunities for the dererest kind of plotting and counterplotting, and is full 
of action and incident. 

In the foot-notes generally the editor has called attention to the new rules 
of syntax officially promulgated by the French Government in March, igoi. 
By means of ingenious observations and inductions and by contrasting the 
two languages, pupils will not only better understand the French text, but 
will also improve their knowledge of their own vernacular. 



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